Strengthening resilience in food security: Africa’s option to end malnutrition
By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Jos – Africa, rich in human and natural resources has no business being poor or hungry, but large-scale development challenges have taken a toll on citizens, making them very vulnerable and unable to self-actualize.
From Morocco in the North, Zimbabwe in the South, Somalia in the East, Nigeria in the West to the Central African Republic (C.A.R) in Central Africa, citizens suffer the common fate of over-population, leadership deficits, inadequate plan implementation, wars, climate change, pestilence, deprivation, poverty, food scarcity, malnutrition and other factors, which threaten the prosperity of the continent.
To mitigate this challenge, the African Union, the continental body with the mandate to ensure prosperity, peace and unity across the continent, has devised means to address the menace, using Agenda 2063 which is the continental framework for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It has other programmes like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost intra-African agricultural trade and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Agenda 2063, which seeks to build the resilience of communities and ecosystems, is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent in 50 years, having been put in place in 2013. It has identified 15 flagship programmes that can boost Africa’s economic growth and development and lead to rapid transformation that would deliver both quantitative and qualitative transformational outcomes for citizens.
It advocates that, investments be made in modern agriculture for increased proactivity and production, (member countries are expected to increase investment level in agriculture by allocating at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture and rural development, and to achieve agricultural growth rates if at least 6% per annum) as well as exploit the vast potential of Africa’s blue/ocean economy and actions taken to address climate change issues and other environmental factors that pose a great risk to the agricultural sector.
A constructive implementation of the framework under its Aspiration 1 – A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development also sets targets for reducing poverty and malnutrition, increasing productivity and farm incomes, improve the sustainability of agricultural production and use of natural resources as AU advocates for member states to set the agricultural agenda and the stage for rapid agricultural change.
The seven goals of the Aspiration 1 are: A high standard of living, quality of life and well-being for all ending poverty, inequalities of income and opportunity; job creation, especially addressing youth unemployment; facing up to the challenges of rapid population growth and urbanization, improvement of habitats and access to basic necessities of life – water, sanitation, electricity; providing social security and protection.
Well-educated citizens and skills revolutions underpinned by science, technology and innovation; developing Africa’s human and social capital (through an education and skills revolution emphasizing science and technology).
Healthy and well-nourished citizens expanding access to quality healthcare services, particularly for women and girls.
Transformed economies and jobs transforming Africa’s economies through beneficiation from Africa’s natural resources, manufacturing, industrialization and value addition, as well as raising productivity and competitiveness.
Modern agriculture for increased proactivity and production radically transformed African agriculture to enable the continent to feed itself and be a major player as a net food exporter.
Blue/Ocean Economy for accelerated economic growth exploiting the vast potential of Africa’s blue/ocean economy.
Environmentally sustainable climate and resilient economies and communities putting in place measures to sustainably manage the continent’s rich biodiversity, forests, land and waters and using mainly adaptive measures to address climate change risks.
Using the AU Theme of the Year 2022 – the Year of Nutrition; strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent, this reporter with the support from the African Union, worked on a series of stories that delved into how to scale actions that address the challenges of food security, malnutrition, and how regional and continental trade offers the potential to meet the food demand of citizens.
The stories from five selected countries of Morocco, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, C.A.R and Somalia point out the economic importance of having well-nourished African citizens; the dangers of malnutrition among citizens; how nutrition can improve income; how violent conflicts affect the agro-food system and engender a malnourished society; advocate for ending of hostilities to ensure food security and proffer solutions to reverse malnutrition.
They also highlight the challenges of food security for citizens; the relationship between insecurity and food scarcity; the collaborations needed among African countries to ensure food security and steps to be taken to address malnutrition among women and children.
In Morocco, the stories would centre on how to scale up actions that address the challenges of food security as well as how regional and continental trade offer potential for the continent to meet the food demand of African citizens.
Stories from the C.A.R highlight the challenges of food security on citizens as well as how insecurity (violent conflict) engenders food insecurity and what efforts are being deployed to reverse the situations.
Somalia’s stories will dwell on how violent conflict affects the agro-food system and engenders a malnourished society as well as the economic importance of having well-nourished Africans. The stories however bring to the fore, the mechanisms put in place to address the menace of insecurity and malnutrition.
Zimbabwe’s stories centre on the relationship between food insecurity and malnutrition (the efforts being made to ensure food security); how malnutrition could be reversed as well as how good health of citizens can improve the economy of the country.
Stories from Nigeria would look into the efforts made to mitigate the dangers of malnutrition on citizens especially among children, women, and girls as well as promote actions that could curb/end hostilities to ensure food security.
This article was developed with support from the African Union through the African Union Agenda 2063 Pitch Zone Awards, a partnership with the African Women in Media.