Rising above hunger and all forms of malnutrition
SEE ALSO :Free potato seed plan backfiresGrim statistics The 2017 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report points out that the number of undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 was about 224 million, an increase of 24 million compared to 2015. This means that 23 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa, almost one out of four African people, was undernourished. However, compared with the percentage of undernourishment registered in 2000 – 28 per cent – the numbers still show a relative decrease. The increase of hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 is directly linked to conflicts and the impacts of climate change, such as the prolonged drought that affected the rural areas of many countries. Low levels of productivity, weak value-chains and high levels of vulnerability to crises have also contributed to negatively affect food and agriculture systems and rural livelihoods, especially in relation to the poorest people. It is also important to bear in mind that the SDG 2 calls for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. And this is for a reason. Today we are facing a global epidemic of overweight and obesity. The situation is also worrisome here in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30 per cent of adults in Africa are overweight. Obesity rates are nearing 10 per cent in countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. Furthermore, about 41 million children in the world under five years old are overweight. A quarter of these children live in Africa.
SEE ALSO :Tap into new technologies, farmers toldRapid urbanisation and the consumption of highly processed foods are the major drivers behind this increase in overweight and obesity. The challenge is how to promote healthy diets when urbanisation is stimulating a dietary transition towards more processed food. People must be aware about the pros and cons of what they are eating, and also be encouraged to eat healthy food. Youth employment remains a biting challenge in the region. Estimates foresee that people aged 15 to 24 years in Sub-Saharan Africa will increase by more than 90 million by 2030, and most will be in rural areas. Getting this growing number of young people into decent jobs is not just essential for their personal future, but for the future of the continent. The majority of Africa’s rural youth are in the informal economy as contributing family workers, subsistence farmers, home-based micro-entrepreneurs or unskilled workers. They typically earn low wages, work under casual or seasonal arrangements, and face unsafe, often exploitative working conditions that compel many to migrate to urban areas. Farm and non-farm activities hold enormous potential for unemployed African youth. But more effort is needed to transform rural economies.
SEE ALSO :Ouko: Sh4 billion relief money lostFurthermore, there are strong signs that the world economy is recovering and this will create favorable conditions for development. On the margins of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa a few weeks ago, I addressed Heads of State and government and reaffirmed that achieving Zero Hunger is possible. Stronger commitment by governments, the private sector, civil society, the African Union and the United Nations is needed to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development.