Africa must end hunger, says UN

2012-05-15 13:26

Nairobi - Africa needs to boost agricultural productivity and address the debilitating hunger that affects 27% of its population if it is to sustain its economic boom, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said on Tuesday.

African economies grew at an average of more than 5% during the past decade with many countries benefiting from surging commodity prices, as well as growth in services, construction and agriculture.

But the character of the growth has done little to reduce extreme poverty and hunger. More than 40% of African children under five are malnourished, which means they suffer irreversible mental and physical disabilities, the UNDP said.

"The situation is quite bleak," said Sebastian Levine, a UNDP policy adviser for Africa. "This economic resurgence that we have seen has not really had the impact that we would expect."

Africa is the second fastest growing region after Asia, yet 48% of people were found to be living in poverty in 2008, compared to just 14% in East Asia and the Pacific.

Africa continues to be a net importer of food despite an abundance of fertile land and water.

In its first Africa Human Development Report, "Towards a Food Secure Future", the UNDP called for more investment in agriculture to ensure sustained growth and poverty reduction.

"If you don't address food security, you'll not be able to sustain this [growth]," Pedro Conceicao, UNDP's chief economist for Africa, told AlertNet.

Poverty and hunger

"In the long run, you will need populations that are healthy, that are educated, and that are able to be productive."

Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 partly by focusing on policies that encouraged smallholder cocoa farmers to boost output, the report said.

It also recommended policies that boost nutrition, such as school feeding programmes and fortification of food with vitamins and iodine, and increase people's ability to withstand shocks such as drought.

The report said investment in agricultural productivity was important not only for reducing hunger but also in creating jobs for Africa's rapidly growing population, which is predicted to double to 2 billion by 2050.

"The demographic dynamics in Africa present a huge opportunity for the continent. We have seen in many countries that this usually results in more rapid rates of economic growth," said Conceicao.

Agriculture could provide jobs for many young people.

"If agriculture becomes much more effective and much more interesting in terms of utilising and drawing on the skills of youth in new technologies, it will attract a whole new generation of youth and it will create job opportunities," Levine said.

  • Hamrammr - 2012-05-15 14:02

    But first Africa should have to want to do something about it THEMSELVES! It is of no use that the rest of the world want to help feed Africa if the Africans do not want to look after themselves. In the end this create more problems than it creates good.

  • Peter - 2012-05-15 14:13

    Hmmmmmmm ..... and in other news ..... the ANCYL GRAB more producing farms for hand-out to subsistance oriented comrades.

  • Sattva - 2012-05-15 14:15

    I suggest you tell Africa to curb its breeding practices - less children = less mouths to feed!

      Thami - 2012-05-15 15:26

      Europe where your roots are, is overpopulated. Africans had their wealth stolen by your ancestors, so folks before typing insensitive comments, appreciate first the cause of poverty in Africa. Colonialism is the root of most of Africa's problems.

      Buzz - 2012-05-15 17:30

      Europe is overpopulated because of all the immigrants flocking to it's shores to get away from the Sh*th0les where they currently live...

      Luyolo - 2012-05-16 08:59

      I don't understand how Africa's breeding fits in to this..I mean Africa which is a continent is only expected to pass 2 billion by 2050 while some some countries not even continents are already past that.

  • James - 2012-05-15 14:21

    Africas expertise lies in the begging bowl. And Sattva Nails it re birth control.

      Sattva - 2012-05-15 14:27

      thanks James

      Sattva - 2012-05-15 14:27

      thanks James

  • lyn.duplessis - 2012-05-15 15:57

    For a start, grabbing working farms and turning them into wastelands doesn't help does it!

  • ludlowdj - 2012-05-15 16:22

    won't happen until you take all their guns away from them, Africa doesn't grow anything of produce anything that isn't already there they simply spend their lives killing each other, the slave mentality hasn't changed in hundreds of years it won't change now.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-15 16:48

      Ludlowdj Wow !!! One could not make a comment with more racism and hatred !!!! You must be pretty pleased with yourself !!!

  • Craig - 2012-05-15 19:27

    @ Thami, Dude just for a moment look around you, a long long time ago it was time to give up blaming everybody else and understand true life for what it is, once you have reached that objective we might all have a chance, if we as a team fail to get that rite we are as a nation doomed to further hunger, strife and killing, not the ideal situation now is it ?

  • HoLmeYofJesuS - 2012-05-15 23:54

    Many ignorant comments.....there is no reason why any nation should go hungry. The world governments keeps it this way for their own greedy purposes. Africa is a self sufficient continent, with the most natural resources than anywhere in the world......and their country has been stripped and left to starve. Think before you speak, those of you that live in a nation of abundance.

  • Elvis - 2012-05-16 10:05

    Complexity theory explains all internal and external factors that act upon a system such as Africa. These factors may include unfair economic globalisation, legacy of civil wars, external interference and global environmental change including global warming. All these factors compound the poverty in Africa. The solutions are to be found in organisations such as Fair Trade that negotiates and protects the economic rights of small coffee beans farmers, Global Political Agreement negotiated by Ex-Pres Mbeki; a strong AU, strong regional economic integration such as ECOWAS, SADC etc; UN led Climate response strategy including fair compensation for carbon sequestration through a non-biased carbon trading market and so on.

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