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What’s needed to protect food security in Africa during COVID-19

  • In most of Africa, people are more likely to die from starvation caused by the economic fallout from the pandemic than from COVID-19 itself.
  • Investments must be made to improve resiliency and prevent food shortages.

Humans have an enormous capacity for innovation during times of adversity. Today, while we are still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are already asking themselves – how can we build a better post-pandemic world? As we consider addressing the world’s most critical needs, fixing our food systems needs to be at the top of that list.

Food shortages and the risk of starvation

In most of Africa, people are more likely to die from starvation caused by the economic fallout from the pandemic than from the disease itself. An additional 23 million people are expected to be pushed into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa this year alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that our current food production, processing and distribution systems are vulnerable. We are hearing from farmers who cannot get seeds or fertilizer for the planting season. Their harvests are threatened by a shortage of farm labourers. They cannot sell the produce they do grow because markets are closed. If not addressed, these could lead to serious food shortages across the continent.

Furthermore, climate and environmental shocks continue to threaten food supplies. In Africa, locusts are still ravaging crops. Most of the continent is still emerging from its worst drought in years. In West and Central Africa, the lean season is coming, with 21 million people facing critical food shortages in July and August. All this makes recovery from the pandemic even more precarious.

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