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

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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs