Head-to-head: Africa’s food crisis (DEBATE)

An official from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), Nicholas Crawford, and Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, a pan-Africanist and Director of Justice Africa, debate what is causing Africa’s deepening food crisis and what the solutions might be..

Let’s start by remembering that Africa is not a single country.The reasons for the current food crisis – and the need for emergency aid, including food – vary from country to country.

There are also some very positive developments in parts of Africa – experiences that point to solutions for solving the problems of hunger on the continent.The causes for the present hunger crisis are multifold: countries in conflict or emerging from conflict and trying to rebuild their capacity such as West Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Or countries beset with chronic environmental challenges combined with population growth like Ethiopia, Niger, Somalia and Kenya.

Satellite image of Africa, showing the ecologi...

Satellite image of Africa, showing the ecological break that defines the sub-Saharan area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And countries in southern and eastern Africa ravaged by the HIV/Aids crisis, which in turn is further damaging agricultural and economic productivity (already under stress from the structural adjustment period beginning in the 1980s).

Weak governance is also a thread that runs through many of the countries that have faced food crises over the past decade.

International trade barriers that weaken incentives for agricultural production are another factor.


What are the solutions?

Political will to carry out what we know can halve hunger by 2015 and eliminate hunger altogether, including:

  • dismantling of trade barriers and investment in African expertise to take advantage of trade opportunities
  • reducing malnutrition among mothers and children so that the generational cycle of poor nutrition and poverty is broken
  • improving and expanding basic education; the adoption of governance approaches that ensure accountability to citizens, including the vulnerable among them
  • and empowering the African Union and other regional bodies to take responsibility for peace and security on the continent


IMAGE: http://www.nytimes.com




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