Food Shortages Remain an Urgent Problem in Africa

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Posted on 12/18/2013

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, food insecurity remains a serious problem for families living in poverty. Millions of children go hungry because food supplies are inconsistent. Many factors contribute, including extreme weather that destroys crops, inadequate infrastructure, including poor roads that make travel difficult, and insufficient storage facilities. Despite increases in international aid and gains made to improve food security across much of the continent, many families are still going hungry in Africa.

Bearing the Brunt

Approximately 800 million people are "food insecure," meaning they are hungry from time to time. Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of the problem of hunger; in the past decade alone, more than 20 million people living in the Sahel and Horn of Africa have been hit by several separate food crises. By 2050, the world's population is expected to reach 9.6 billion, and we will need to produce an estimated 69 percent more crop calories than were grown in 2006 to feed this future population.

Food insecurity is a complex problem. Although progress has been made with regard to income inequality in many African nations, the poorest people are often the worst affected. Many families still rely on subsistence farming to survive. However, smallholder farms face many challenges, among the most significant of which are weather fluctuations caused by climate change. Extreme droughts have destroyed thousands of crops in recent years, and with so many families relying on growing their own food, even slight changes in environmental conditions can have catastrophic consequences.

Even crops that survive the fluctuating weather conditions in Africa are not guaranteed to reach families who need food. Between 25 and 40 percent of Africa's crop yield is wasted annually due to insufficient storage facilities, and according to some experts, reducing post-harvest losses is one of Africa's most urgent priorities.

"Yearly grain loss is about $4 billion, and that is exactly the invoice that sub-Saharan Africa pays every year to import grains," Mamadou Biteye, managing director of the regional office of the Rockefeller Foundation, told AllAfrica. "This means that if we are able to reduce this significantly, we don't need to increase production."

Uncertain Futures

In 2011, the worst drought in more than 60 years hit the Horn of Africa, including many of the countries in which ChildFund operates, such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. More than 13 million people were affected, and many families had little choice but to abandon their homes and seek shelter in areas hit less hard by the drought. These journeys were often arduous, and not everyone survived.

Stories from the drought-affected region highlight how many families live in precarious situations. Even those who escaped the worst of the drought faced many uncertainties, including food insecurity and a lack of water. ChildFund works in some of the world's poorest countries to provide families with the support they need to survive. One of the best ways you can help ChildFund do this is by becoming a monthly giving partner.

For a donation of around 50 cents per day, you can support our work through the Essentials for Survival fund. This important fund allows us to provide aid where the need is greatest, offering children and their families the nutritious food, clean drinking water and lifesaving health care they need.

Another way you can bring hope to a child's life is by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can help us ensure that a boy or girl living in poverty has the resources he or she so desperately needs. Many of our sponsored children have gone on to lead happy, fulfilling lives, so please consider helping us this holiday season and invest in future generations of African children.