Addressing the threat from climate variability and extremes for food security and nutrition
This year’s edition of the Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition reports that the food security situation on the continent continues to worsen. For Africa, 20.4 percent of the continent’s population – 257 million people – are undernourished, up from 19.7 in 2016 – 241 million people. In sub–Saharan Africa, there are 237 million undernourished in 2017, up from 222 million in 2016.
The worsening situation in Africa is due to difficult global economic conditions and, in many countries, conflict and climate-related disasters, sometimes in combination. Economic growth slowed in 2016 due to weak commodity prices, in particular for oil and minerals. Food insecurity has worsened in countries affected by conflict, often exacerbated by drought or floods, and in Southern and Eastern Africa many countries have been adversely affected by prolonged drought. Notably, several countries have achieved sustained progress in reducing food insecurity in the face of challenging circumstances.
The deterioration of the food security situation and the lack of progress towards the WHO global nutrition targets makes it imperative for countries to step up their efforts, if they are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The need for greater efforts also emerges clearly from the findings of the inaugural biennial review of progress in implementing the goals of the Malabo Declaration. In addition to specific food security and nutrition policies, this year’s report reviews four important cross-cutting topics, namely, youth employment, remittances, intraregional trade, and climate change. It highlights their interplay with the food system and their role in food security and nutrition.
The thematic part of the report presents an evidence-based assessment of the threat posed by more frequent occurrences of climate extremes and rising climate variability to food security and nutrition in the region. Climate change in combination with poor development planning, poverty and environmental degradation increases the risk of a climate event becoming a disaster. A collective approach that combines climate change adaptation with disaster-resilient development is an opportunity to address climate and disaster risks within the context of broader development goals.