Hundreds of thousands of people could starve to death if the scale of Africa’s food security crisis is not recognized, says Isak Pretorius, CEO of Africa’s largest indigenous non-governmental organization, ForAfrika.
“The food crisis – and growing malnutrition – affecting our continent is real and urgent, and I urge people of conscience to join the people of Africa,” he said.
Contrary to what is often reported, the drought in Africa extends far beyond the Horn of Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people across central and southern Africa are at risk due to lack of food. produced in the region this year, says Killen Otieno, chief operating officer of ForAfrika.
Urgent aid is needed to prevent parts of the Horn of Africa region that encompass Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti from descending into famine, Otieno said.
In addition, drought and heat stress are evident as far south as northwestern Namibia, southwestern Angola, northern and central Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar.
ForAfrika has helped over 1.2 million people in South Sudan in 2021, and over
903,000 in Angola, 50,000 in Uganda, 400,000 in Mozambique, 166,300 in South Africa and 500 in Rwanda in the same year.
This help includes working with people to improve their ability to feed themselves.
“The staff of ForAfrika are themselves African. This is our home and we know what Africans need to thrive.
This is our vision – for Africa to prosper,” says Pretorius. “People can help us achieve this through their donations.
“The crisis, which the Food and Agriculture Organization and the African Union (AU) say has affected 346 million people, is the result of a number of factors occurring simultaneously.
These include conflict, drought, floods, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising prices due to the war in Ukraine,” he says.
While food insecurity in Africa is driven by recurring environmental, political and economic instability and a concomitant breakdown in community support systems, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the situation by disrupting global food supplies. in wheat and other commodities such as cooking oil, pushing up prices.
“Africa is home to low-income countries that are at risk of food insecurity, with the war in Ukraine amplifying existing strains caused by two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Russia and Ukraine being among the world’s leading fertilizer exporters, the crisis could deepen and spread, affecting food production, availability and access, especially for the most vulnerable households.” , says Otieno.
African governments also have a role to play in ensuring that a situation like the one facing so many countries across the continent does not happen again, says Fred Mutenyo, ForAfrika’s Uganda Programs Manager.
Uganda hosts more refugees than any other African country, many of whom have been displaced by drought in the Horn of Africa.
Africa’s food security crisis is worsening, but only 30-40% of the continent’s arable land is used to grow food, and over the past 40 years Africa has steadily lost its share of the global food market. , says Mutenyo.
For the continent to regain its place in global food systems, governments across Africa need to invest in agriculture and in agricultural technologies that help farmers improve their rate of production and adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, he says.
The continent has the potential, in fact, to surpass its highest previous production levels, producing enough to feed its population of 1.2 billion and export food.
Strengthening food security is one of ForAfrika’s priorities, especially since getting it right can improve people’s lives in a variety of ways.
If people can produce a surplus of food, they can improve their own nutrition, and they can earn money by selling the food, which can be used to improve their education, health, and general well-being.
ForAfrika supports household food production by teaching intensive agronomic practices that boost production volumes and nutrition, providing farmers with good seed stock, and promoting climate-smart technology that helps farmers mitigate and s adapt to the effects of climate change.
These climate-smart technologies include solar-powered irrigation, using seeds known for their good germination rates, and a variety of water and soil conservation techniques.
It is well known that although Africa contributes the least to climate change, it is the continent most vulnerable to it.
A major contributing factor to this situation is that most of Africa’s agriculture (95%, according to the African Development Bank) is rain-fed and agriculture employs a high percentage of the total population.
Recent record temperatures in Europe show that climate change is having real effects on people around the world.
While this phenomenon poses a great threat to Africa’s future sustainability, if the continent’s governments work together, climate change could also serve as a catalyst for the continent to use its resources to chart a new course towards a brighter future for its people and to achieve the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.