Wednesday, November 23, 2022



Of the 24 countries classified as hunger hotspots by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme in 2022, 16 are in Africa. The continent accounts for 62 percent of the total number of food insecure in hotspot countries.

Overall, 80 percent or an estimated 137 million people in conflict-affected countries, including the Horn of Africa, northern Nigeria, eastern DRC and the Sahal, are food insecure.

Three countries,  DRC, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, account for more than 56 percent of the food insecurity in Africa.

Global upheavals, the war in Ukraine, armed conflicts, extreme weather events, international inflation increasing prices, particularly of agricultural inputs plus low intra-continental trade are fuelling food insecurity across Africa.

"...Climate change will contribute to a decline in African agricultural yields, which are already very low, by 5 to 17 percent by 2050,” says Hafez Ghanem, former regional Vice President of the World Bank Group.

External factors – the disruption of food systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent reduced purchasing power, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to an increase in world food, fuel and fertiliser prices – coupled with drastic weather changes, and continuation or intensification of conflict and insecurity have compromised an already fragile food chain.

As a net food and fuel importer, FAO research shows Ethiopia is particularly affected by high international prices. Food price inflation averaged 40 percent during the first half of 2022.

The onset of floods in 27 Nigerian states earlier in February 2022 has damaged 450,000 hectares of farmland, seriously compromising the 2022 harvest. 

Floods have similarly disrupted agriculture in South Sudan.

The Sahel – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – has seen a 50 percent increase in food insecurity compared to 2021. A reflection, Ghanem says, “of the sharp increase in political instability and conflict in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and rising world prices for food, fuel, and fertilisers."

Ghanem urges a pan-African initiatives to boost food production. Africa is ripe with opportunities for inter-African cooperation.

 “Africa’s agriculture has the lowest yields in the world. Africa has the least percentage of irrigated land and uses the least fertiliser per hectare. The continent also invests the least in research and development.”

 He explains, “Africa imports about 60 percent of all fertiliser use, making it very expensive for our farmers, leading to low fertiliser usage. We already have big fertiliser-producing companies, including Dangote in Nigeria and OCP in Morocco. The continent can work with such African fertiliser producers to establish more fertiliser factories on the continent.”

Ghanem promotes multi-country regional investments in infrastructure, which would, in turn, enhance agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change. Further, he sees such an approach as an opportunity to create an African council to coordinate and encourage agricultural research and development. Equally important, a pan-African approach could support a facility to ensure vulnerable African countries can finance food imports in times of crisis.

Buoyed by its vast natural resources and human capital, Ghanem says a united vision for Africa will help develop Africa’s bread baskets and deliver a future with food security for all.

 For more on this subject, see Ghanem’s paper here.

Pan-African Approach Needed to Tackle Food Insecurity | Inter Press Service (

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