FabAfriq Magazine

THE COVID 19 VIRUS AND FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The present COVID 19 pandemic has taken the world by surprise and is holding the whole world by its balls. It is threatening the security of every domain of life as we know it from education through health, to banking and much more. Food security is not exempt

The gravity of food security issues in Africa

Africa’s food security prior to this pandemic was already in turbulent waters due to rising and multiple violent conflicts all over the continent and climate change. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s definition, people suffer from chronic hunger if their daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they would need for a healthy and active life. The lower limit of this is 1,800 calories per day. Today, over 800 million people in the world face chronic undernourishment. Over 100 million people are in need of lifesaving food assistance, with about 20% of this number in Africa. The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, risks undermining the efforts of humanitarian and food security organizations seeking to reverse the trend of rising hunger on the continent.

The former Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director General Shenggen Fan wrote that: “COVID-19 is a health crisis. But it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not adopted.”


African nations that already suffer from one or more of the following are on red alert: nations suffering from severe poverty and poor healthcare infrastructures, nations which lack robust social safety nets, those with a people who already suffer from chronic or acute hunger or malnourishment. The COVID-19 virus is especially fatal for those who are elderly, whose health is already compromised by preceding or existent health complications.

Actions to combat food insecurity

All stakeholders in the food and agriculture sectors in Africa need to put both hands on deck, and much more, to help at least curb the rising trend of hunger that is more than ever before present on the continent.

Work is continuously being done by the World Food Program (WFP) which is present on most countries on the continent. They remain the largest hunger-fighting organization that works not only in Africa but in some of the most difficult and inaccessible places on the planet, to make sure that people suffering from the impacts of man-made conflict, climate-related severe weather events and other shocks receive assistance. . As it did in response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and again in 2018, WFP will continue to leverage its unmatched logistical expertise and field presence to carefully monitor global food supplies and prices, preposition food stocks to priority operations, and support WHO and governments with supply chain expertise .Their efforts are lauded, but more still needs to be done, given the current difficulties being faced with the COVID19 pandemic.


As per recommendations from the FAO and partners in the 2019 report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, the following consist of some salient points highlighted as ways to mitigate food security and malnutrition issues in the world, which African nations also need to put into swift action: countries should meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations. Countries should boost their social protection programs. They need to gain efficiencies and try to reduce trade-related cost. Policy makers must monitor trends and take care to avoid accidentally tightening food-supply conditions, something that China has managed so far with creative and adaptive methods. They equally have to make country specific changes and invest in the necessary agricultural and technological advancements needed to ensure more productivity.


 

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