News / Africa

Hunger Report Highlights Africa Food Security Issues

A mother waits for milk at a feeding center in the conflict-torn Central African Republic
A mother waits for milk at a feeding center in the conflict-torn Central African Republic
TEXT SIZE - +

A report on hunger released this week highlights the persistent difficulties Africans face regarding food security.

In the list of 10 countries facing the worst levels of hunger, nine of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the annual Global Hunger Index, the only non-African country on the list is Haiti. The nine African countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Chad, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Comoros, Madagascar and the Central African Republic.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, three quarters of the population are estimated to be undernourished.

The International Food Policy Research Institute, which released the report with other aid groups, says economic growth, strong agricultural performance, gender equity and an end to conflict are essential to substantially reducing hunger.

A senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Roger Thurow, has many more practical ideas. He explains the title of his recently co-authored book, "Enough."

"We brought hunger with us into the 21st century in ever increasing numbers and that is shameful. We ought to say we have enough with the hunger issue; let us get to the bottom of it. The other meaning is that there is enough food in the world to feed everybody, for everybody to have enough caloric intake to lead an active life," he said.

A key problem in Africa, Thurow says, is that farmers are usually left to fend for themselves when they face a drought, a flood or an insufficient harvest.

"In the United States or in Europe when a crop fails, there is usually somebody who writes a check  either the government or an insurance company. In Africa, when a crop fails, people die because there is no safetynet. Nobody is sharing the risk; it is all borne by the farmers themselves."

Although emergency relief is crucial in times of famine, Thurow would like to see more aid for long-term agricultural development and practices, such as improved grain storage.

"In Africa, maybe 30 to 50 percent of harvests of the various crops are wasted every year because there are not proper storage facilities.  The markets then should be able to steer some of the surpluses in one part of the country to other places where there are shortages," he said.

Thurow calls for more micro-finance programs to give African farmers the ability to buy seed and fertilizer, and to improve irrigation.  He says he is encouraged by mobile phone applications that are being developed to give farmers data on prices and marketing possibilities.

Earlier this year, activists with the international anti-poverty group ActionAid held marches in several countries, calling for an end to hunger.

The group's chief executive Joanna Kerr says farmer and female empowerment are crucial.

"The solution is quite simply -- to put farmers first and particularly female farmers first.  Women farmers produce 80 percent of the world's food and they produce that food closest to where people are the hungriest," she said.

Kerr says world leaders need to do much more to confront the problem.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid