Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Africa Human Development Report 2012 on Food security

Launch of the report at the UNON compound in Nairobi.
(Photo: UNDP)
15 May, Nairobi, Kenya. Sub-Saharan Africa cannot sustain its present economic resurgence unless it eliminates the hunger that affects nearly a quarter of its people, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) argues in the newly released Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future.

“Impressive GDP growth rates in Africa have not translated into the elimination of hunger and malnutrition. Inclusive growth and people-centred approaches to food security are needed” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the launch on 15/05, attended by Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki. Arguing that action focused on agriculture alone will not end food insecurity either, the Report calls for new approaches covering multiple sectors; from rural infrastructure to health services, to new forms of social protection and empowering local communities.

Ensuring that the poor and vulnerable have greater voice through strengthened local government and civil society groups is also needed to ensure food security for all. The quickening pace of change and new economic vitality on the continent make this an opportune time for action, the Report says. “Building a food-secure future for all Africans will only be achieved if efforts span the entire development agenda” Helen Clark said. While acknowledging that there are no quick fixes, the report argues that food security can be achieved through immediate action in four critical areas: Increasing agricultural productivity; more effective nutrition; building resilience; empowerment and social justice.

Towards a Food Secure Future

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger in the world. Until this situation improves, the human development prospects of millions of Africans will remain at risk. UNDP’s first Africa Human Development Report shows that food security and human development reinforce each other.

If African countries are to realize their long-term potential, the report says, they must boost agricultural productivity to both improve the availability of food and reduce poverty. Policies to enhance nutrition are central to ensuring that access to food translates into human development. The report argues further that local populations must have the resources and decision-making power to produce and consume nutritious food throughout the year, overcoming the risks represented by continuing conflict, climate change and variations in food prices.

These drivers of change, by ending the ravages of hunger and malnourishment, will nurture capabilities and conditions for human development. A well-nourished and empowered population, in turn, is more likely to seek education, participate in society and expand its productive and human potential. With the right policies and institutions Africa can sustain this virtuous cycle of higher human development and enhanced food security.

Watch the video of the report below, featuring Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Harvard Professor Calestous Juma, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the Director of UNDP Africa, Tegegnework Gettu. All interviews can be watched individually.
Africa Human Development Report 2012 from UNDP on Vimeo.