Food Scarcity Plagues Africa
Photo courtesy of UNICEF
Seventeen of the twenty nations facing a “Malthusian” extinction crisis by 2040 – a condition reached when population growth rapidly outpaces food production – are in Africa, including more than a handful neighboring Sudan. Thomas Malthus was the economist who predicted mass starvation worldwide in the early 1800s but his predictions weren’t realized when astonishing agricultural innovation avoided the crisis by rapidly increasing food production in the early 1800s. The New York Times reported the story here:
"Remember the Population Bomb?
It’s Still Ticking”
By Eugene Linden, author of “The Ragged Edge of the World”
The New York Times, Sunday Review, June 18, 2017
United Nations research indicates that a doubling of food production is necessary in the next decade in Africa to save threatened nations from what its World Food Program calls a Phase 5 Famine. In a Phase 5 food crisis, starvation deaths and social collapse of the society can be expected. The five phase descriptions are:
1. Minimal (food shortages)
2. Stressed (humanitarian assistance needed)
3. Crisis (malnutrition and food scarcity)
4. Emergency (heavy mortality, social disorder)
5. Famine (starvation is evident and common)
The 17 African countries under threat level 5 have histories of drought, war, and in some cases the AIDS epidemic, which have combined in a perfect storm to create a population/food emergency that humanitarian aid alone cannot handle. The UN World Food Program reported the research here:
Sudan has its share of conflicts and is classified as level 2 (Stressed) conditions, receiving active UN humanitarian assistance in several provinces suffering from conflicts. However, Sudan is in much better shape than the 17 African nations under level 5 threat of famine, because Sudan has capacities those nations don’t possess: arable land, access to water, and modern food production and distribution infrastructure.
KSC believes that Sudan’s underutilized arable lands can be harnessed to feed all of Sudan’s needs while greatly helping to alleviate the food crisis in African nations where “the population of desperately impoverished has grown to far exceed their total population of 1970,” as the New York Times graphed in stark numbers.
"Looking at these staggering numbers, Malthusian concerns come back with a vengeance”
The New York Times
There are 352 million impoverished people in 17 African nations today, a number which dwarfs the 80 million people in 75 nations receiving assistance from the UN World Food Program in 2016. And that number will double in the coming 20 years if endogenous food production does not dramatically increase.
The World Food Program’s global food deliveries has gone from 14 million metric tons in 1988 to a little over 4 million metric tons in 2012, reflecting a shift from mostly program deliveries in 1988 to mostly emergency response in 2012, according to WFP measurements.
The $8 billion contributed in 2016 was provided by dozens of nations led by the US ($2 billion), EU ($900 million) and Germany ($900 million). With these funds, the WFP purchased food in 91 countries (86% of which are developing nations) and delivers food, cash or vouchers to recipients in cooperation with local government.
The UN numbers tell an ominous story: world food aid at many times the volumes
of 2016 looks highly unlikely for the future. And so, the only solution for Africa
is endogenous: to produce a lot more food, and fast.
Are you interested in knowing more about food insecurity in Africa?
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had to say about this problem.