Archive for the ‘Africran Crisis Fact’ Category

Facts and Issues in Africa
March 24, 2009

60 % of Africans go to bed hungry
Half pf those 60% are seriously malnourished
Only 37% have access to clean drinking water
Millions died in famines in Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, and Sudan
In the early 1960’s Africa produced 95% of its needed food, today, every country imports food
Population is going up 3.5% a year, food is going down 2.5% a year
Food production is 20% lower than in 1970, when the population was half what it is now

Reason for hunger in Africa
– Growing population, fastest growing of any continent in history
– Lack of water -> 47% of Africa is too dry for rainfed crops
– Not enough money for irrigation
– Lack of topsoil -> expanding desert
– erosion by wind
– Tribes cutting wood for fires
– Livestock eating ground cover
– Buring for planting
– Droughts
– Little understanding of modern technology -> much farming still done by hand on small plots
– Lack of education
– Governments keep prices of food low to keep themselves popular, but farmers then can’t make a living – Lack of storage facilities
– lack of transportation
– Bugs and pests eating crops
– Disease carrying bugs in fertile areas
– No development of high yielding seeds suitable for African climates
– Wars -> farmers become soldiers
– Farms become battlefield
– Refugees leave their homes and farms


The reasons for the current food crisis
March 24, 2009

The causes for the present hunger crisis are multifold: countries in conflict or emerging from conflict and trying to rebuild their capacity such as West Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And countries in southern and eastern Africa ravaged by the HIV/Aids crisis, which in turn is further damaging agricultural and economic productivity (already under stress from the structural adjustment period beginning in the 1980s).

International trade barriers that weaken incentives for agricultural production are another factor.

Which countries are worst affected?

At the moment, the Horn of Africa is worst hit, especially Somalia, north-eastern Kenyan and Ethiopia.

Some 11 million people need food aid in the region after poor rains, the WFP says.

About half of these are on the brink of starvation and need urgent help.

Why are so many people still going hungry?

The basic problem is poverty.

Most Africans live in rural areas, where many are subsistence farmers, dependent on a good harvest to get enough food to eat.

There are hardly any irrigation systems, so people rely on the rains.

If one rainy season fails, people have very few savings – in either food or cash – to see them through.

Even in good years, there is a “hungry season”, when last year’s harvests have run out and the next crops are not yet ripe.

While people were starving in parts of Niger last year, shops in the capital, Niamey, were full of food but many could not afford to buy it.

In both the Horn of Africa and Niger, some of the most vulnerable were pastoralists, whose animals quickly succumbed when there was nothing left to graze.

When the animals die, their owners have no other way of getting enough food to eat.

Some say that the pastoralist lifestyle is no longer sustainable.

(Pastoralist lifestyle is  moving livestock around larger areas of land according to seasons and availability of water and food.)

What are the other reasons?

Many farmers say that rains have become less reliable in recent years, which could be the result of global warming.

The Sahara desert is certainly expanding to the south, making life increasingly difficult for farmers and pastoralists in places like Niger.

Also, rising populations have led people to farm on increasingly marginal land, even more at risk from even a slight decline in rainfall.

Southern Africa has the world’s highest rates of HIV/Aids and this is a major factor in that region’s food crisis, which in turn is further damaging agricultural and economic productivity (already under stress from the structural adjustment period beginning in the 1980s). Countries beset with chronic environmental challenges combined with population growth like Ethiopia, Niger, Somalia and Kenya.

Some of those who should be the most productive farmers – young men and women – are either sick or have died, so their fields are being left untended, while their children go hungry.

What about the role of governments?

Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen said that no democracy has ever suffered from a famine and Africa’s political problems have certainly contributed to the hunger of its people.

Some three million people are going hungry in Zimbabwe, which used to be the region’s bread basket. Most donors say the government’s seizure of productive, white-owned farms has worsened the effects of poor rains.

The government has also been accused of only delivering food aid to its own supporters and punishing areas which vote for the opposition.

Conflict obviously makes farming difficult, as people either run away from their fields or are too afraid to venture too far from their homes.

Farmers and pastoralists in countries such as Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo face constant harassment by armed men.

Weak governance is also a thread that runs through many of the countries that have faced food crises over the past decade.



Africa Fact and Statistic
March 24, 2009

Africa Map

AFRICA as a Nation

Africa is the second largest continent located to the south of Europe and bordered to the west by the South Atlantic and to the east by the Indian Ocean.

One of the most serious difficulties facing the African nations in their attempts to develop their economies stems from the excessive political and economic fragmentation of the African continent. Most of the African nations are too small to provide them with an adequate basis for economic and social progress. This has impacted in society and culture aspect which lead to increasing number of poverty.

“Poor governance is a major issue in many African countries, and one that has serious repercussions for long-term food security,”

“Problems such as corruption, collusion and nepotism can significantly inhibit the capacity of governments to promote development efforts.”

a statement by the International Food Policy Research Institute.


The number of Africans needing food aid has doubled in a decade
More than half of Africa is now in need of urgent food assistance.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning that 27 sub-Saharan countries now need help. (sub saharan is the region of Africa to the south of the Sahara Desert)

In sub-Saharan Africa soil quality is classified as degraded in about 72% of arable land and 31% of pasture land.

In addition to natural nutrient deficiencies in the soil, soil fertility is declining by the year through “nutrient mining”, whereby nutrients are removed over the harvest period and lost through leaching, erosion or other means.

Nutrient levels have declined over the past 30 years, says the International Food Policy Research Institute.


The result is that a continent that was more than self sufficient in food at independence 50 years ago, is now a massive food importer. The book The African Food Crisis says that in less than 40 years the sub-continent went from being a net exporter of basic food staples to relying on imports and food aid.

In 1966-1970, net exports averaged 1.3 million tons of food a year, it states.

“By the late 1970s Africa imported 4.4 million tonnes of staple foods a year, a figure that had risen to 10 million tonnes by the mid 1980s.”

Since independence, agricultural output per capita remained stagnant, and in many places declined.

But what appear as isolated disasters brought about by drought or conflict in countries like Somalia, Malawi, Niger, Kenya and Zimbabwe are  in reality systemic problems. It is African agriculture itself that is in crisis, and according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, this has left 200 million people malnourished. It is particularly striking that the FAO highlights political problems such as civil strife, refugee movements and returnees in 15 of the 27 countries it declares in need of urgent assistance. By comparison drought is only cited in 12 out of 27 countries. The implication is clear – Africa’s years of wars, coups and civil strife are responsible for more hunger than the natural problems that befall it.

Africa’s elites respond to political pressure, which is mainly exercised in towns and cities. This is compounded by corruption and mismanagement – what donors call a lack of sound governance.

“Poor governance is a major issue in many African countries, and one that has serious repercussions for long-term food security,” says a statement by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Problems such as corruption, collusion and nepotism can significantly inhibit the capacity of governments to promote development efforts. Also wars and political conflict, leading to refugees and instability.

In 2004 the chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, reminded an AU summit that the continent had suffered from 186 coups and 26 major wars in the past 50 years. It is estimated that there are more than 16 million refugees and displaced persons in Africa.

With good governance, most African countries could be net exporters of agricultural produce Darren, Lobatse, Botswana
Martin Plaut – BBC Africa analyst