Food insecurity starves Africa of progress

Two years ago, a woman in Turkana slaughtered her two dogs to feed her starving family. Having lost three children to hunger, Akai Ekomua had to do the unthinkable to save her remaining two children, a local daily reported on January 29, 2014. She was generous enough to share the dog meat with her dying neighbours.

Kenya was facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, in counties including Kwale, Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Moyale, Pokot, Turkana and Wajir. A survey by the National Drought Management Authority, indicated that more than 346,000 Turkanas were in dire need of food and water.

This year, following the unusually strong El Niño rains, coupled with record-high temperatures afterwards, the UN has warned that about 36 million people across southern and eastern Africa face hunger. Worst hit will be Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. Hunger is a problem that won’t go away, not just for Kenya but for Africa and developing countries worldwide. Food security is a situation whereby all people have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times to meet their day-to-day dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

Link to poverty

Governments in developing countries have struggled to achieve, let alone sustain, food security. The global food system is inter-connected and dependent on natural factors, including soil, precipitation, water availability and climate. It is also influenced by international trade, urbanisation, changing demographics, energy, water and land use policy. Its link to health complicates it further.

The UN’s Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development initiative, estimates that about 790 million people living in developing countries, mostly in Africa, are undernourished, compared to 34 million people in industrialised countries. This is a major drawback to sustainable development. Several initiatives have been rolled out to raise global awareness on the need to improve food security, such as the G8 New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition, and the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture. However, achieving food security still remains a major problem.

If developing countries are to make considerable progress, they must prioritise food and health security, because their stability and development depends on a reliable manpower with access to quality food and healthcare. Therefore, intensity in infrastructure and technological development must be driven with the intent of enhancing food and health security.

Food security has four interconnected aspects: food availability, access to food,

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