Food Insecurity: A Challenge For Africa In The COVID-19 Era

July 04, 2020

Kargi, a remote nomadic settlement in Kenya
Kargi, a remote nomadic settlement in Kenya

New Delhi: Hunger has been increasing at an alarming rate and is a cause that needs immediate attention. Not just hunger, but droughts and extreme climate-change related events have resulted in a darkly altered standard of living for most people across the globe. The agriculture sector in Africa has had multi-pronged issues: crop failure and poor harvests have taken a toll on the region. All of this has led to millions of people needing immediate food assistance and unfortunately, the number of people struggling due to lack of food is ever increasing. 

Various countries in Africa have poorly performed in the past decade to protect its citizens from the environmental and man-made disasters and in providing adequate nutrition. The terror unleashed by Boko Haram militants triggered a mass exodus in north-eastern Nigeria. When the Nigerian army recaptured the area in 2016, the scale of the refugee and hunger crisis became apparent.There were cycles of massive flooding followed by prolonged droughts that destroyed crops, livestock and houses in southern and central Malawi which led to wide-spread loss of life and property.

In partnership with the World Food Programme, World Relief-an NGO is mobilising local church leaders to distribute monthly supplies of maize, corn-soy blend, salt and oil to vulnerable families.The United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley spelt it out: “The WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020. In some countries we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work”, he elaborated. “In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside an economic collapse leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.” [1]

Africa is the second-most driest region after Australia and throughout the continent, water and food scarcity is becoming prominent due to an increase in population growth and climate change. Seeing the statistics, water and food scarcity is going to increase at a faster pace in the coming years unless the countries in the region start coordinating at a greater level.

Fortunately, with a better management system and improved policies, the continent can definitely resolve the hunger problem. The policies should focus on now, keeping in mind the future, since the situation isn’t going to get better anytime soon. Water resources management has recently become a focal point of discussions during the policy-making by the African governments. With more water, more crops can be sown, the yield will improve and hence more mouths can be fed.

The year 2020 has proven to be unfortunate for most countries, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have magnified the global crisis in the region. “COVID-19 is unfolding in Africa against a backdrop of worrying levels of hunger and undernourishment, which could worsen as the virus threatens livelihoods and household economies,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Hunger and malnutrition heighten vulnerability to diseases, the consequences of which could be far-reaching if not properly addressed.” [2]

However, there is a need for more awareness about the potential dangers of the pandemic with not everyone on the board when it comes to accepting the potential problems which COVID-19 can bring. Tanzania’s president John Magufuli claimed that economy and tourism are more important than the threat Covid’19 and thus planning to keep its border open. Therefore the country has denied restrictions and is majorly focusing on its economic prosperity.[3]

COVID-19 has been majorly affecting people with weaker immune systems or people suffering from diseases like diabetes or tuberculosis (TB). The continent which is seen as the greatest victim of malnourishment is now on the verge of a more serious illness. It is even more critical for the sub-Saharan nations to take action in order to protect their citizens from a humanitarian crisis.

(Sona Sharma is an intern with OneWorld Foundation India)



[1] World Food Programme forecasts global hunger hotspots as a new decade dawns | World Food Programme. (2020). Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

[2] WHO says COVID-19 to escalate hunger, malnutrition in Africa - Xinhua | (2020). Retrieved 22 June 2020, from

[3] Beaumont, P. (2020). Tanzania's president shrugs off Covid-19 risk after sending fruit for 'tests'. Retrieved 22 June 2020, from