239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from hunger and malnutrition


The hunger and malnutrition crisis in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing at an alarming rate, with now about 239 million people suffering, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The organization discussed key targets to combat the problem during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

"The only way we can bring it to zero is through peace and security," said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo on the sidelines of the assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"Let us silence the guns by working hand in hand for peace and development," she added, in line with the event's theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development".

UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have put in major targets including lessening the high number of sub-Saharan Africans suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.

"SDG aims at accelerating progress towards eradicating poverty as well as ending hunger and malnutrition by tapping into the under-supported potential of agriculture to boost individual countries' efforts to achieve the 2030 agenda for sustainable development."

Furthermore, Semedo emphasized the UN body is implementing various initiatives to increase the incomes of the rural poor. "In this context, FAO's hand in hand initiative identifies the best opportunities to raise incomes of the rural poor through agricultural transformation."

"The success of the initiative hinges on innovation and investment to fast-track agro-food transformation and sustainable rural development especially in countries where national capacities and international support are limited or where the population is vulnerable to natural disaster or conflict."

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In September 2019, FAO started the hand in hand initiative to help accomplish SDGs, particularly putting an end to poverty and hunger. The initiative's goal is to make use of innovative technology and methodologies to determine the best opportunities to improve the rural population's livelihoods.

In addition, new ideas are required to end both hunger and poverty challenges, said Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AU.

"Two intertwined challenges of our time keep persisting on the continent. It's time to admit that business as usual and doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result defeats the tents of wisdom."

Moreover, Sacko pointed out that putting a stop to the various problems in the African continent is crucial if the food security goals across the continent are to be understood.

"We need to creatively find the common ground and common mechanism for addressing the nexus between conflict and food security."

Featured image credit: UN


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