By Samuel Oyejola
One in every five persons across the African continent is hungry with about 256.5 million living with hunger on the continent, a new United Nations report has stated.
According to the report, State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people across the world has reached alarming 821 million with limited progress being made in addressing the multiple forms of malnutrition, ranging from child stunting to adult obesity thereby putting the health of hundreds of millions of people at risk.
The report stated that climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns.
Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent still battles Boko haram terrorists in the North-East, and farmers and herdsmen clashes in the North-Central and some parts of the country.
This has continue to reduce agriculture productivity in the country and hampered the sustainability of the SDG goal on hunger eradication as farmers are unwilling to return to farm against the backdrop of marauding hoodlums invading their farmlands.
This development has also contributed to the country being regarded as the country with the highest number of poor people across the globe.
The head of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley and the heads of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation jointly described the unfortunate development as a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make no one is left behind on the road towards achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition.
“The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we ‘leave no one behind’ on the road towards achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition,” they said.
“If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes,” the leaders said.
In Nigeria, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided food needs for households affected by the insecurity in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country while the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) provided them with seeds and fertilizers to produce food.
The report noted that changes in climate are already undermining production of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions and, without building climate resilience, “this is expected to worsen as temperatures increase and become more extreme.”
The report calls for implementing and scaling up interventions aimed at guaranteeing access to nutritious foods and breaking the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.
“Policies must pay special attention to groups who are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of poor food access: infants, children aged under five, school-aged children, adolescent girls, and women.
“At the same time, a sustainable shift must be made towards nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems that can provide safe and high-quality food for all,” the report stated.
The report also called for greater efforts to build climate resilience through policies that promote climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction.