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Regional themes > Food security Last update: 2020-11-27  

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Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jenny Clover, Institute for Security Studies, RSA


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The right to food is one of those most consistently enshrined in international human rights law, but it is the one most frequently violated in recent times. Targets set by the World Food Summit in 1996 for the reduction of hunger have largely failed, despite food production having grown faster than world population. Global, national and human security issues are increasingly converging, and in some regions overlapping.

Some 840 million people worldwide are malnourished, the highest percentage of these being in Africa. The magnitude of the problem in Africa has now reached unprecedented crisis levels - some 38 million people face "an urgent and imminent threat to their peace, security and stability".

The reasons why action plans to address food security have continued to fall short can be attributed to faulty analysis and faulty actions. What is needed is an understanding that goes beyond conventional, orthodox wisdom to work more strategically in developing and implementing effective, international, national and regional policies. Availability, access and affordability are all elements of food security, complex issues that encompass a wide range of inter-related economic, social and political factors, internal and external, which challenge Africa's ability to address food security. Ultimately hunger is a political creation which must be ended by political means.

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