Food Security Slowly Improving in Sub-Saharan Africa
Favorable policies and investments in agricultural infrastructure have emerged as the major drivers of food-security improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is according to results released by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (The EIU’s) 2015 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) annual update.
“Food security challenges for developed and developing countries differ considerably,” said Dr Richard Okine, Regional Director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa. “Developing countries often lack basic infrastructure, including storage, road and port facilities, while smaller incomes inhibit access to and affordability of nutritious food. Political risk and corruption frequently compound structural difficulties in these countries. Investment in infrastructure and food systems in low-income and lower-middle income countries is the key to narrowing the gap.”
Food security in SSA is continuing to improve. Of the 28 countries in the region, 82% recorded score increases between 2014 and 2015, and the region as a whole saw a score improvement of 1.5 points.
For the first time, improvements in the structures that impact food security, rather than income improvements, are driving positive score changes. The high economic growth rates that SSA has experienced in recent years have resulted in increased investment in the structures that are necessary to ensure food security. The report shows that both public and private investment in SSA’s agricultural and food systems have begun to pay off and major improvements occurred in the following areas; food safety-net programmes, crop storage facilities and the subsequent reduction in the percentage in food loss.
“An overwhelmingly positive factor has been the fact that over the past few years, the overall economic growth in the developing world has led to improvements in the structural areas that are essential to improving people’s access to a wider range of affordable, nutritious foods,” said Dr Okine. “This includes more extensive food safety-net programmes, expanded crop storage capacity and dietary diversity.”
Sub-Saharan Africa also saw impressive gains in food Quality & Safety. Burkina Faso and Mali led the way, driven by improved access to quality protein, a measure of the average consumption of essential amino acids in a country’s diet. Burkina Faso also made significant strides in the diet diversification indicator, with a 25% increase (87% score increase) in the amount of non-starchy foods consumed in the average diet.
Such progress notwithstanding, global food insecurity remains a challenge. According to UN estimates, the world population is projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, with growth coming mainly from developing countries, with more than half in Africa. As populations boom and incomes rise in developing countries, the FAO estimates food production will have to grow by 50% to meet demand.
“Solutions must be collaborative – reached in concert with communities, governments, NGOs and farmers who know the ‘facts on the ground’ and with global businesses who have the specialized expertise or resources to help solve particular problems,” said Dr Okine. “Food system infrastructure, including transport and storage facilities, takes longer to improve than other elements necessary for food security, but government prioritisation and public private-sector partnerships have driven, and will likely continue to drive, progress.”
Watch this video that explain the Global Food Security Index: