Quantcast

4 ways to end hunger in Africa

Annan: Almost 800 million men, women and children won't have enough food to eat today

Kofi Annan | 9/7/2016, 9 a.m.
For the first time in human history, the end of hunger is well within our reach. While courageous and passionate ...
Former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Prize laureate Kofi Annan frames the current landscape of Africa's path to renewable energy, while maintaining the continent is a clean canvass full of possibilities and flexibility. (Kofi Annan Foundation)

— For the first time in human history, the end of hunger is well within our reach. While courageous and passionate individuals have been working to end this scourge for decades, a recent confluence of political will, public-private partnerships and funding has made this ambition possible.

We have, of course, a long way to go. Almost 800 million men, women and children will not have enough food to eat today. But the achievement of halving the proportion of malnourished people since 1990 has shown us just what can be achieved.

Look, for example, at Africa. Twelve years ago, when I was UN Secretary-General, I called for a "uniquely African Green Revolution" to transform agriculture and the life chances of hundreds of millions of people on the continent. Progress has been remarkable.

For over a decade, African countries have put a much greater emphasis on investment in agriculture and supporting the continent's farmers. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), launched by African leaders in 2003 and reiterated in the Malabo Declaration of June 2014, provides a clear framework to accelerate investment and coordinate countries' efforts.

International donors have thrown their weight behind these national efforts. From a surge in donor investment stemming from the 2009 G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, to the agreement by the global community to prioritize hunger and malnutrition in last year's Sustainable Development Goals, the tide is turning.

With the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was created in 2006. In just a short period of time, it has become a preeminent leader in transforming Africa's agriculture and food systems. Thanks to the partnerships it has formed, the research and development it has supported and the initiatives on the ground it has launched, smallholder farmers have obtained access to better seeds, sustainable agricultural techniques and financing, while thousands of agri-businesses have been created and expanded.

The last few weeks have given more reason to celebrate. In a rare show of bipartisan cooperation, the United States Congress in July passed the Global Food Security Act. This significant legislation reaffirms the United States' commitment to ending global hunger, poverty and child malnutrition through President Obama's Feed the Future Initiative by supporting developing countries to improve their agriculture and broaden food systems. It is hoped that the passing of the Act encourages other traditional donor countries to take similar actions.

This latest good news comes as African heads of state, international donors and hunger advocates from around the world gather in Nairobi, Kenya, for the African Green Revolution Forum. It is an opportunity not only to celebrate collective progress but also to commit ourselves to step up the battle against hunger and malnutrition.

We must seize on this critical moment and build on the incredible progress that's been made in recent years. We all gain if we get this right. Increasing food security not only lifts the shadow of hunger from hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings. It also builds up economies and trade and minimizes the risk of political instability.