COVID-19, conflicts hampering food security in Africa

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By Kaleyesus Bekele, Dakar, Senegal

The adverse impacts of the COVID-19 and conflicts are hampering food security in
the African continent.

This was disclosed at a high- level the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD
meeting that kicked off on Tuesday July 26, 2022 in Dakar, Senegal.

In her opening remark, CEO of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD,
Mrs Nardos Bekele-Thomas, said that the COVID-19 and its socio- economic
consequences have exacerbated food insecurity and malnutrition globally. In
Africa, compared with 2019, about 46 million more people were affected by
hunger in 2020, in the shadow of the pandemic. Further evidence suggests that,
without urgent action, COVID-19 could result in an additional 9.3 million wasted
children – on top of the 45 million in 2020 – and an additional 2.6 million stunted
children – on top of the 149 million in 2020 – globally by the end of 2022,
backsliding a decade of progress on nutrition.

Mrs Nardos Bekele-Thomas noted that climate change, conflicts and terrorism,
and the increased cost of food are some of the challenges adversely impacting
food security. According to the CEO, in the Horn of Africa region, severe droughts
since 1981 are leading to the death of livestock and crop failure, resulting in an
estimated 13 million people waking up hungry every day.  “Conflict is a major
threat to food security and the leading cause of global food crises in 2020 and
now the conflict in Ukraine and Russia has plunged global food and energy
markets into turmoil, raising high food prices even further. These increases once
passed on to our local domestic markets, will limit people’s access to food of
adequate quantity and quality,” she said.

FAO has estimated that, globally, the number of undernourished people, which
was around 817 million in 2021, could increase by 7.6 – 13.1 million people in

However, Nardos Bekele-Thomas said, despite the challenges affecting food and
nutrition security in Africa, the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and
Regional Agriculture Investment Plans (RAIPs) are instrumental in driving the

agriculture transformation processes and building resilient food systems on the
“Today, I am very delighted that we are nearing the end of the second decade
(MALABO Declaration) of the NAIP and RAIP implementation, it is of paramount
importance to take stock on how far the National Agriculture Investment Plans
(NAIPs) and Regional Agriculture Investment Plans (RAIPs) were instrumental in
driving the agriculture transformation processes and building resilient on food
systems. Further, I would like to also congratulate the Member States here
present and with the support of partners, that we have managed to successfully
sustain and expand the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development
Programme (CAADP) process for more than a decade,” she said.

Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas said the work built on the CAADP as a continental
policy framework for agricultural transformation to increase food security and
nutrition and reduce poverty and the commitment to agricultural transformation
under the African Union (AU) CAADP Malabo declaration on agricultural growth
and transformation, the African Common Position on Food Systems shall bring
renewed impetus to agriculture developed on the African Continent.

“Africa expects the momentum created by the UNFSS to result in mobilizing and
galvanizing implementation of its priorities in Agenda 2063, the CAADP-Malabo
declaration, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and other AU
continental development frameworks.”

The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD is mandated to coordinate and
promote regional integration towards the accelerated realization of the AU
Agenda 2063.

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