The UNDP recently released (in August 2012) a new report entitled Africa Human Development Report. It emphasizes the need for a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to hunger and starvation in Africa. Rarely is the frustration and disbelief that the ‘spectre of famine…continues to haunt parts of Sub-Saharan Africa’, put so eloquently. Indeed, one in four Africans is undernourished and yet Sub-Saharan Africa has ‘ample agricultural land, plenty of water, a generally favourable climate for growing food’ and, in the past 10 years, ‘world-beating economic growth rates’ in some countries.
The solutions outlined in the report are not new: greater production, better access and increased human capability but this report goes further in saying these are necessary but not sufficient conditions for achieving food security. Good nutrition, robust policies, which support smallholder farmers, strong institutions and a focus on resilience are also critical. While many reports focus on some of these aspects, complex as they are on their own, this report gives an overview of the myriad of solutions that not only exist but that must come together to achieve food security.
Empowerment and human rights are also integral to the report: …’the basic right to food….is being violated in Sub-Saharan Africa to an intolerable degree’. Giving all people a voice and ensuring governments and are accountable to all people is an argument rarely used alongside the practical means of tackling hunger.
This report that lays out the issues in a powerful way, concluding that, ‘The challenge of food security in Sub-Saharan Africa is formidable, the timeframe for action tight and the investment required substantial. But the potential gains for human development are immense.’ Let’s hope the language is powerful enough to inspire action.