U.S. officials say food insecurity in Africa will worsen this year because of climate change, conflict, and market disruptions caused partly by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Speaking online to journalists Thursday from Malawi, Cary Fowler, special envoy for Global Food Security, said looking for solutions is key.
“As much as I wish I could bring the hopeful message that the food crisis will be over this year, we have to recognize that the chief drivers of the food crisis are still with us,” Fowler said. “And it behooves us, therefore, to be looking at solutions for all of those, or adaptive measures. That’s the situation as I see it today.”
According to the 2022 Global Food Crisis Report, one in every five Africans goes to bed hungry, and at least 140 million people on the continent face acute food insecurity.
African farmers continue to practice traditional farming methods, but the weather has been unpredictable in recent years, causing farmers to produce less food. Farmers complain about high seed and fertilizer prices and a failure to produce enough food for the population.
Drought also has contributed to food insecurity in some parts of the continent, particularly the Horn of Africa, destroying livestock and crops and forcing people to rely on humanitarian assistance for food and medicine.
In 2022, the U.S. government invested $11 billion in humanitarian assistance in 55 countries, including some from Africa.
Dina Esposito, the USAID Global Food Crisis Coordinator, said her government is also supporting African farmers in producing their own food to overcome hunger and food insecurity.
“We have also got a global hunger initiative that is exactly focused on what are the right systems and approaches to advancing agriculture, taking that very localized context in mind, advancing drip irrigation and other forms of water-saving measures where it makes sense, helping farmers adapt to a changing climate in other ways, fundamentally always looking – we see our role really as helping these farmers shift from subsistence farming to more intensified and sustainable production,” she said.
Esposito also said the U.S. government is committed to partnering with leaders to advance global food insecurity and solve global hunger.
Koech Oscar teaches land, resource management and agricultural technology at the University of Nairobi. He said no single African country can solve the food crisis alone, and there is a need for a regional approach to deal with growing hunger on the continent.
“We need our nations to work together because of our connectedness. We are one ecosystem at the end of the day, our animals are in Uganda. Some of them are going to Tanzania and others are coming in, so we need to have regional strategists to support our communities because these are regional problems and we need to see significant investment in this production, especially in agriculture,” he said. “You look at the national budgets of these African countries, how much goes into agriculture because we cannot have a peaceful nation, we cannot have a prosperous nation, development, without people producing food for themselves and enough food for themselves.”
Last October, African ministers of agriculture meeting in Ethiopia pledged to support sustainable food security, transform food systems, and build a viable commercial agricultural ecosystem on the continent.