Knowledge for better food systems

Sub-Saharan Africa’s food systems and COVID-19

This discussion paper by the international Food and Land Use Coalition sets out a framework for understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It finds that the cost of a basic food basket has increased during the first quarter of 2020 by over 10% in nine SSA countries and by 5-10% in eight other SSA countries.

The paper points out that SSA food systems were already vulnerable prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with agricultural productivity often low and the region being dependent on food imports and thus at risk from increases in international food prices. Parts of SSA have also been affected by conflict and by crop losses from locust swarms. 

The World Bank estimates that an additional 23 million people in SSA may be put into extreme poverty through the economic impacts of COVID-19, which is likely to negatively impact access to food. Furthermore, the ability of governments to respond is limited by high levels of debt as well as dependence of government revenue on exports and tourism,

Read the full report, Sub-Saharan Africa’s Food Systems and COVID-19: Emerging Evidence, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource chapter What is the connection between infectious diseases in humans and livestock? Read other COVID-19 content in the FCRN’s research library here.

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The 54 countries in Africa – from the dry northern African nations, through those in deserts and rainforests, all the way to the temperate parts of South Africa – are hugely varied in their ethnic, cultural, climatic, geographic, and economic aspects. The continent’s population of over a billion inhabitants, with a median age of 19.7 years, is the youngest in the world. Due to both its localised epidemics of hunger and its huge untapped agricultural potential, Sub-Saharan Africa specifically is a key focus area for many NGOs and development agencies interested in food production and security.

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