[Thought Piece] The status of agri-food systems in Africa


State of food security and nutrition: Both hunger and malnutrition have been worsening over the last few years. The prevalence of hunger has been on the rise in the Africa region since 2017. As such, the status of food security and nutrition in Africa is backsliding.

The 2022 Report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World[1] shows that about 278 million people in Africa faced hunger in 2021. This is an increase by 13 million more people compared to the 2020 level, and by 46 million more people compared to the 2019 level, which is the pre-Covid-19 pandemic time. With one in five people facing hunger in 2021, Africa is bearing the heaviest burden in terms of prevalence compared to other regions.

Overlapping shocks and protracted crises have exacerbated vulnerability to risks and uncertainties. While the type of shocks remains largely the same as previous couple of years, i.e., climate extremes, conflicts/wars, Covid-19 pandemic, and economic shocks, there are some new dimensions. A significant and impactful difference in 2022 has been the war in Ukraine, which is geographically removed from Africa by thousands of miles away but with direct multifaceted adverse impacts on economies and livelihoods in Africa. What has exposed the economies and livelihoods in Africa to such adverse uncertainties and risk is the weakness and/or missing mechanisms and capacities to mitigate the impacts of these multiple shocks.

Climate variability and extremes: The Horn of Africa has faced a worst drought in four decades, exposing up to 20 million people to hunger in 2022, with devastating impacts on livelihoods. Similarly, more than 40 million people in the Sahel and West Africa sub region face acute food insecurity in 2022, which marks significant jump from three years ago – then it was about 11 million people. The recent FAO-WFP Hunger Hotspots Report[2] indicates that six of the top ten countries most affected by hunger globally are in Africa. They make up for 14 of the top 20 countries.

COVID-19 Pandemic: More people slid into chronic hunger in 2020 than in the previous five years combined. Recovery from the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 has been quite a challenge in Africa. According FAO projections, more than 310 million people to go hungry in Africa by 2030, which would be more than 21 million more undernourished people in 2030 than a counterfactual scenario of no COVID pandemic situation. Both scenarios (with or without Covid-19 pandemic) paint a bleak future that hunger would be on the rise in Africa, instead of falling to zero by 2030 (SDG2).


[1] FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2022. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022.

[2] WFP and FAO. 2022. Hunger Hotspots. FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity: June to September 2022 Outlook. Rome.

Please read the complete issue here

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