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Hunger in Africa — are things looking up? By: Dr Ayo Ajayi

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There are always at least two ways to read something, and that is definitely true of the latest report on hunger in Africa.

The Global Hunger Index: Africa Report was released at the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa earlier this month. To me, it was encouraging reading.

The report shows that the hunger level across Africa has declined in general since 2000, and that sub-Saharan Africa has experienced the greatest improvement of all African regions. Good news, indeed.

The bad news? The report also says that we have a long way to go to reach the sustainable development goal of “zero hunger” by 2030.

“Despite the improvement that has been made, the rate of hunger reduction must accelerate in Africa south of the Sahara in order to reach the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) of Zero Hunger by 2030.” — Global Hunger Index: Africa Report

You could take that as a dire warning, but I am optimistic. Look how far we have come already. There is no reason Africa can’t, with concerted effort, increase the rate at which it works to reduce hunger. That word “concerted” is important. Africans must act in concert to realize this goal.

We already have the 2014 Malabo Declaration, in which AU members pledged to transform agriculture in Africa so that all on the continent could benefit from growth and sustainable development. A similar goal is contained in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report shows that two-thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. The biggest problem is that agricultural productivity levels in the region are the lowest of any region in the world. Obviously, this needs to change.

The thing is, as the Global Hunger Index highlights, since 2000, the region has shown strong average economic growth. Also, there have been advances in public health, including lower transmission levels and better treatment for HIV/AIDS and fewer malaria deaths, and there is less conflict in general, with the civil wars in Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda coming to their ends. (Sadly, conflicts in Chad and the Central African Republic have pushed hunger rates higher in those two countries.)

The point here is that these improvements in the general welfare of the people who live in sub-Saharan Africa mean that the environment is right for more improvements, including in how much nutritious food there is to go around. People are healthier, and so is the economy. So, now let’s get going.

Africa Director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our work addresses challenges in the areas of health, agriculture, and financial services for the poor.

This article originally published on https://medium.com/@DrAAjayi

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