Africa’s struggle for food security
April 11, 2003 - The second Pan-African Congress
on Food Security, Trade and Sustainable Development , opened at UN-HABITAT
in Nairobi this week with delegates expressing deep concern at Africa’s
food security situation.
“Africa remains the most food deficient continent and the
predictions are so grim, that unless radical measures are undertaken,
starvation in the continent will be much worse into the next decade than
it is today,” said Anna Tabaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT in
her opening remarks.
She said food security in Africa is not only pivotal, but
also basic to the realization of poverty eradication and better living
conditions in both rural and urban areas. She decried the alarming national
and international levels of starvation, hunger and deprivation. She also
urged Africa to look deeper into the causes of food insecurity as priority.
This would encourage sustainable short and long-term solutions to the
problems currently encountered, especially in managing the water crisis,
natural hazards, the urbanization phenomenon, technology, government policies,
armed conflicts and HIV/AIDS.
The congress was organised by the Coalition of African Organisations on
Food Security and Sustainable Development (COASAD).
Food insecurity in Africa derives from a number of causes
- natural hazards such as drought, floods and pests; sociological trends
such as the rapidly increasing urbanization resulting in reduced agricultural
production, and human-created socio-political and military conflictual
The food crisis is particularly exacerbated by armed conflict
in many countries and regions with more than 20 African countries being
directly or indirectly affected by armed conflicts since 1990. The crises
in these countries has not only led to destruction of food production
and trade, but also created huge refugee populations - about 30 per cent
of the global refugee population. Acute food shortages have been caused
in many regions, with a decline of 12 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.
The congress has made useful proposals of far-reaching
importance for food security in Africa and the world. It seeks to stimulate
and sensitize African governments and policy makers, the private sector
and other stakeholders to the crucial importance of ensuring food security
in the African continent. This meeting, the fourth in two years, was chaired
by Professor Robert Mabele, Chairperson, COASAD. It also discussed:
- Globalization and food trade liberalization under the
World Trade Organization (WTO) and Bretton Wood s institutions with
specific focus on African food security – theory and evidence.
- Implications of global conferences on African food security
– rhetoric or genuine progress for Africa’s afflicted populations.
- Is the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)
the instrument to finally rid Africa of its chronic hunger?
- Farmers’ organizations as the basis for the eradication
of Hunger on the African continent: Packaging effective agricultural
support services in an urbanizing and globalizing continent.
See full speech of the Executive Director