Food security is dire in Africa – and getting worse

Africa has the highest levels of food insecurity in the world, and it will get significantly worse by 2030, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Their report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023 has just been released. It notes that, while food security has been improving in Latin America and Asia as they recovered from Covid-19 lockdowns, hunger in Africa is worsening.

It estimated that, across the world, about 735 million people faced hunger in 2022. Of those, nearly 282 million are in Africa. Nearly one in four people in Africa faced severe food insecurity last year, the FAO said.

Adding together the moderate and severe food insecurity categories, it said 60.9% of people in Africa did not have access to adequate food in 2022. In Asia the figure was 24.2% and in Latin America 37.5%. By contrast North America and Europe were at 8%.

The prevalence in 2022 ranged from 25.9% in Southern Africa to 78.4% in Middle Africa. The increase in moderate or severe food insecurity in Africa from 2021 to 2022 is mostly due to more people facing moderate food insecurity, as the rise in severe food insecurity in the region was marginal.

The report shows that reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eliminating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by 2030 will probably not be possible.

“It is projected that almost 600 million people will be chronically undernourished in 2030,” it says.

“Most progress is expected to occur in Asia, whereas no progress is foreseen in Latin America and the Caribbean, and hunger is projected to increase significantly in Africa by 2030.”

While the SDG goals may seem out of reach, the lack of an increase in global hunger in 2023 “may signal the beginning of a turnaround”, it said, and any improvement in the nutrition of children bodes well for the future.

“Achieving food security and nutrition goals is not only good for those suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition, it is good for everyone. A healthier, more just and equal world is better for all,” the report concluded.