How to end chronic hunger cycle in Africa ?

 

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Africa Analysis: Ending Africa’s chronic hunger cycle

Speed read

  • Africa is home to three of four nations that could be hit by famine in 2017
  • African governments must invest in sustainable water supply to boost farming
  • Governments should learn from other nations such as China, India and Sri Lanka
For Africa to end chronic hunger, governments must invest in sustainable water supplies, writes Esther Ngumbi.

The fields are bare under the scorching sun and temperatures rise with every passing week. Any crops the extreme temperatures haven’t destroyed, the insect pests have, and for many farmers, there is nothing they can do. [1] Now, news about hunger across Africa makes mass media headlines daily. [2]

Globally, hunger levels are at their highest. [3] In fact, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, over 70 million people across 45 countries will require food emergency assistance in 2017, with Africa being home to three of the four countries deemed to face a critical risk of famine: Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. [4]

“Many African smallholder farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture, and because last year’s rains were inadequate, many farmers never harvested any crops.”

Esther Ngumbi, Auburn University in Alabama. United States

African governments, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and humanitarian relief agencies, including the United Nations World Food Programme, continue to launch short-term solutions such as food relief supplies to avert the situation. Kenya, for example, is handing cash transfers and food relief to its affected citizens. The UN World Food Programme is also distributing food to drought-stricken Somalia. [5] And in Zambia, the government is employing every tool including its military to combat insect pest infestation. [6]

But why are we here? What happened? Why is there such a large drought?

Reasons for chronic hunger

Many African smallholder farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture, and because last year’s rains were inadequate, many farmers never harvested any crops. Indeed, failed rains across parts of the Horn of Africa have led to the current drought that is affecting Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia and northern and eastern Kenya. [7]

Read the full article: SciDevNet

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.