Washington’s Africa Summit: focus on food security

AFRICAN FOOD CRISIS

Washington’s Africa Summit: focus on food security

50 African heads of state gathered in Washington before the end of last year to discuss a range of matters, strengthen relations, and launch an initiative to address food insecurity in Africa, writes TOM SHEEHY.

THE US-Africa Leaders Summit in December 2022 was a beehive of activity. With some 50 African heads of state in Washington for the first summit since 2014, it focused on strengthening partnerships between Americans and Africans, while covering a broad range of areas, including commerce, health, and education. Not to be overlooked, a major initiative to address Africa’s growing food insecurity was launched.

Many African countries are facing a dire lack of nutrition to meet basic needs. Of the 24 countries that the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization classifies as “hunger hot spots”, 16 are African. The Sahel region is particularly hard hit, with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger being 50% less food-secure than last year. Ethiopia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are very food-insecure. Food insecurity brings incalculable human suffering, as inadequate nutrition leads to disease, death, and depressed economic activity.

Africa’s food crisis has many causes. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spiked world food, fuel, and fertiliser prices. Conflict and drought in the Horn have taken their toll, as have global inflation and Covid-19-related supply chain weakness. These factors, layered on the already low agricultural production of most African countries, are driving food insecurity throughout the continent. With a growing African population, this crisis could explode, if not addressed now...

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