Africa: Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security in Africa


Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security in Africa; UN Secretary-General’s remarks at the Africa Dialogue Series 2022

I am happy to join you for this Dialogue Series and commend your focus on nutrition and food security on the African continent.

For too long, nutrition, food security, conflicts, climate change, ecosystems and health have been treated as separate issues.

But these global challenges are deeply interconnected.

Conflict creates hunger. The climate crisis amplifies conflict.

Economic insecurity is heightened by the pandemic and by inequalities in resources allocated for recovery.

These problems are systemic; and they are getting worse. Decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.

After improving steadily in all regions between 2000 and 2016, hunger has sharply increased in recent years. Over 281 million Africans – one in five – were undernourished in 2020.

Sixty-one million African children are affected by stunting, which can impact their physical and mental health throughout their lives.

As always, women and girls are the most affected.

When food is short, they are often the last to eat; and the first to be taken out of school and forced into work or marriage.

UN humanitarian aid

Our humanitarian operations are doing their utmost to help. Just last week, I announced the release of $30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, bringing the total funding channeled through CERF in the Sahel to nearly $95 million since the start of the year.

But this is a drop in the ocean. Humanitarian aid cannot compete with the systemic drivers of hunger.

External shocks are further exacerbating the situation.

An uneven recovery from the pandemic has put many developing countries on the brink of debt default. Inequality is enormous in that regard.

The war in Ukraine has led to the highest food prices on record.

African countries are among those most heavily impacted – especially when this is coupled with rising energy bills and limited access to finance.

I convened the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, involving all UN agencies and international financial institutions, to provide data and analysis, and to propose solutions.

The group immediately recommended that all food export restrictions should be lifted; strategic reserves should be released; and surpluses allocated to countries in need.