Without Investment in Agriculture, Africans Stay Hungry

  •  johannesburg
  • Inter Press Service

The GHI - a 100-point system calculated based on the proportion of people who are undernourished, the percentage of children under five who are underweight and countries' child mortality rates - is published annually by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Irish charity Concern Worldwide.

Africa's score has improved slightly over the past 20 years, from 25.3 points in 1990 to 21.7 points in 2010, but at this rate, there is no way that Africa, as a continent, will achieve Millennium Development Goal to halve hunger by 2015.

'There's a lack of progress,' warns Marie Ruel, director of IFPRI's poverty, health and nutritional division, noting that it is of particular concern that, in some African countries, the percentage of hungry people has increased over the past years. According to the index, the Democratic Republic of Congo has the highest proportion of people facing hunger of any country in the world, followed by Chad, Eritrea and Burundi. The DRC also has the highest proportion of undernourished people - three quarters of its population - and one of the highest child mortality rates in the world.

Burundi, the Comoros and Eritrea are not much better off, with half of their populations undernourished. One of the key reasons for hunger in these countries is prolonged insecurity due to war, the report notes, but there are also many other factors that contribute to food insecurity, such as limited access to water, lack of investment in agriculture and the effects of climate change.

In the case of Burundi, for example, a key reason for food insecurity is poor water management, which is undermining the country's agricultural sector, believes Professor Sheryl Hendriks, a researcher at the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

© Inter Press Service (2010) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service