Sunday, June 23, 2024

Food insecurity will further destabilise Africa

Peace is often an ingredient for progress.

And when there is no peace, it hard for there to be progress. And food insecurity is often one of the first results of absence of peace.

It is very rare to find economically stable countries engaged in civil wars.

Yet where there is economic strife, there is a high chance of a civil war or some such strife.

In Africa the two – insecurity and famine – often go together.

At the moment there are several flashpoints across Africa owing to increased terrorism and lawlessness.

There are many countries with parts where government presence is almost none existent.

These areas are often the sources of anarchy, poverty and also hunger.

The key areas in Africa that are a cause for concern are the vast Sahel region which sprawls across the Sahara Desert. Then there is the Congo Basin that makes up most of central, east and west Africa, with many countries in between. The worst affected region has got to be the Horn of Africa, and last but not least is the northern part of Mozambique where SADC forces have had to be deployed to come to the assistance of Mozambique government.

In all  these three areas, instability has led to extreme poverty that has led to famine that now threatens to decimate lives.

The United Nations estimates that an additional 47 million people will face hunger this year. A significant proportion of them are in Africa. The war in Ukraine will only make matters worse.

The same report estimates that the famine this year could turn out to be the worst for over a century.

Close to 70 percent of world’s food insecurity is in Africa – east Africa to be precise.

Unsurprisingly, the worst affected country is Somalia.

This is because war in that country is making the situation of drought and climate change worse.

Somalia has ben at war for a generation now.

That alone should send shivers down the spines of people who care.

As is so often the case it is the vulnerable members of communities that will be affected most – by violent extremism and also famine.

And these are children and also women.

Even before the war in Ukraine several countries in Africa had become victims of terrorism.

That had made these countries very vulnerable.

There was also the problem of climate change which had rendered many countries poverty stricken as to send many of the citizens into dangerous  voyages into Europe where they hoped to find better living standards.

The African Union has to mobilise African countries to spearhead efforts to intervene in the hard-hit countries of the continent.

The United States has announced a package of assistance aimed at improving food security.

The country has also made it clear that it intends to intensify its partnership with Africa.

But African Union has talked about African solutions to African problems.

The ongoing famine is a huge opportunity to put that into actual practice.

The African Union, the African Development Bank and indeed African countries should embrace such moves by the United States.

Of course the scale of what efforts are needed to save lives is much bigger than Africa alone could overcome without outside assistance.

The trouble for Africa is that famine and security feed into each other.

Just as insecurity has wrought famine, the famine will itself beget insecurity.

And the longer it takes to come to grips with the other, the harder it gets to overcome it.

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