Africa: On the Edge of Hunger

Today the world is facing an unprecedented hunger crisis. Every day this crisis is pushing thousands of people towards death. In many of the world’s hotspots, the situation of hunger is becoming worse. The Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters like drought and floods brought on by climate change, and man-made conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war all contribute to the surge in hunger. A storm of staggering proportions is pushing millions of people closer to starvation. When it comes to Africa, most humans consider Africa to be a very poor, underdeveloped, and largely unexplored continent. The majority of the world is ignorant of Africa’s problems, but the word hunger is what has drawn the world’s attention towards Africa because this continent continues to face the worst food security in the world. The greatest percentage of any continent in the world, 140  million people in Africa are experiencing severe food scarcity. In fact, starvation has claimed the lives of over 200,000 individuals. Thus, this article’s aim is to find out how millions of Africans are impacted by terrible hunger. 

The problem of hunger is not new to African countries. Since the last 40 years, 140 million people in several African countries have been on the verge of hunger, and they desperately require international aid. Due to a severe drought brought on by a lack of precipitation, climate change, and extreme weather, farmers are facing serious challenges throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. More than 100,000 people have left their homes in the quest for food since the year 2022. Almost 30% of children are chronically malnourished which limits their physical and mental growth, and 380,000 of them are at risk of death as catastrophic hunger levels become more and more dreadful. 

According to the recent estimation of Oxfam, it is believed that one person dies from starvation every 48 seconds in eastern Africa. People’s lives, families, health, and livelihoods are destroyed by factors like climate change that make floods and droughts more frequent and destroy crops in the region. About 9.4 million people in Mozambique,  8.5 million in Ethiopia, 7.8  million in Somalia, 7.7 million in Zimbabwe, 5.1 million in Malawi, and 3.4 million in Kenya are suffering from appalling levels of food insecurity. Many African lives are being more at risk every day as a result of the tragedy that is gripping the continent. Not only that but the war in Ukraine which is thousands of kilometers away has exacerbated food insecurity in Africa. According to the World Food Program, if the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not cease soon, hunger might spread to 174 million people throughout huge portions of Africa, increasing by 20 percent. 

On the other hand, recent statistics show that  there are around 6.5 million people in South Africa who are suffering from hunger, and one in ten of them experience daily hunger. Therefore, hunger rates are high. Due to a multitude of circumstances, South Africa’s rate of hunger has dramatically increased this year, which has led to the continent economic downturn and the fact that many people are going to bed hungry. In South Africa, 27% of children under the age of five, have a nutritional deficiency which might cause problems for the rest of their lives. With each day that goes by, this condition deteriorates worse. Floods obliterate homes and towns much as deforestation destroys productive land. Prolonged drought destroys crops and causes food insecurity among households. Many countries have been impacted by a lack of rainfall in recent years, leaving their populations dependent on food help. In last summer, over 23% of South African household experienced hunger and 70% of those households depended on government aid. 

To sum up, action against hunger calls on world leaders to prioritize ways to stop the catastrophic effects of climate change on Africa as well as ways to develop the continent’s agricultural sector. While in many African countries, it is already too late to stop people from dying but there is still time to scale up aid efforts to lessen the levels of suffering and death. There is an urgent need to concentrate on food production, but it is crucial to find ways to do so without destroying the forests, rivers, and seas that support food production. Also, according to estimates, 40% of the food produced in the United States is never consumed. If only half of the potential food waste globally were recovered, we might put a stop to the hunger crisis not only in Africa, but also globally.

[Stephen Morrison/Africa Practice, via Wikimedia Commons]

Shahzadi Irrum is an Assistant Research Fellow at Balochistan Think Tank Network, Quetta. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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