Food

At this moment, more than 900 million people worldwide are experiencing hunger. Among the hardest hit regions Southern and Eastern Africa as well as India are experiencing crimpling drought and rising temperatures. Leaving over 400 million threatened with starvation.

According to the United Nations Global Early Warning System people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and those living along the North-South African corridor are experiencing one of the worst droughts brought on in the last 25 years.

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Food insecurity is threatening to slow the economic progress of countries in the SADC region and those in the larger Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Drought, poverty, and food insecurity that threaten large populations around the world are disconcerting challenges that keep us, at 1847 Philanthropic, up at night. While it may be tempting to separate these issues into smaller and more “manageable” problem sets that bite sized approach limits the ability of these countries to mobilize on a grander scale the necessary resources to holistically tackle this dilemma comprehensively. Achieving optimal nutrition[1] depends on the complex movement of multiple factors within the health and food systems of a particular country. Many factors contribute to this delicate nutrition enabling environment. While we can’t completely militate against natural disasters such as drought, through genuine partnership and collaboration, we can work toward local preparedness and increased resiliency for those most at risk and vulnerable to the plights of malnutrition and starvation in developing countries.
In the short and medium-term, three things can be done to help us achieve the sustainable development goals of no hunger and good health:

  • Source food stuffs for immediate emergency relief from the local region versus importing international food aid; this will do less harm to local economies and will assist with regional integration and increased investments in the transportation and local production of food.
  • Ramp up investments in cold storage and processing facilities and enhance the use of successful methods of irrigation for locally available nutritious foods such as sweet potatoes and legumes
  • Support local organizations already providing assistance throughout the lean slow seasons and unforeseen disasters. Far too often critical local factors are left out of the discussion pertaining to overseas development assistance (ODA) with direct food support when clearly they are the closest responders. While ODA is often structured as bilateral agreements between two countries, they lack the flexibility of bringing additional development and private sector partners to the table threatening all well-intended efforts.

Governments within the COMESA and SADC regional blocks need to compromise for the sake of an estimated 30 million people who lack the daily dietary intake needed to live a healthy life (United Nations). The pattern of food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa has been well-researched and documented. Whether it is man-made via policies or by natural disasters and climate change, we have to do more in moments that are non-emergency to prepare societies for fluctuations that may develop into emergencies.

Organizations such as Farm Capital Africa, MFarm. One Acre Fund and others are African organizations emerging entirely as agribusiness markets. The organizations create demand, use capital access for growth, and support farmers and cooperatives. All of these factors point to what we know will work in the long run. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank has committed $24 billion in funding for agriculture for the next ten years. The donor community needs to get on board and support these initiatives. This action will require some shifting in attitudes and funding objectives but in the long run will bring a great deal of success to a systemic impasse. As Dr. Adesina said at the Seventh African Agriculture Science Week in Kigali, “It is high time that Africa feeds Africa.”[2]

[1] UNICEF, 2013 Black et al., 2013

[2] Africa Wants to Stop Importing Food by Dan Ngabonziza, KT Press, published June 13, 2016

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