Africa: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020

Cultures céréalières
13 July 2020
press release

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

Almost 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019. As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems. While it is too early to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, at least another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020. The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger.

The hungry are most numerous in Asia but expanding fastest in Africa. By the end of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic could tip over 83 to 132 million more people into hunger. High costs and low affordability also mean that 3 billion cannot eat nutritiously.

This year, the report presents evidence that a healthy diet costs far more than US$ 1.90/day, the international poverty threshold. A staggering 3 billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet. In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this is the case for 57 percent of the population – though no region, including North America and Europe, is spared. Partly as a result, the race to end malnutrition appears compromised.

The report indicates that the burden of malnutrition in all its forms remains a challenge and that while the world has been making some progress against some of the 2030 SDG nutrition targets — it has been uneven and insufficient to meet the goals. As of the end of 2019, exclusive breastfeeding only was on track for the 2025 target; stunting and exclusive breastfeeding showed some progress although insufficient to achieve either the 2025 or 2030 targets, the prevalence of wasting was notably higher than the targets and achievement of the 2030 child overweight target would require a reversal of the current trajectory.

Despite some progress for most indicators, only the 2025 target for exclusive breastfeeding is on track to be achieved. Childhood overweight and adult obesity trends need to be reversed.

Global trends in stunting, and overweight prevalence among children under 5 years of age (2012-2019), wasting prevalence among children under 5 years of age (2019), trends in low birthweight prevalence (2012-2015), exclusive breastfeeding among 0-5 month olds (2012-2019) and adult obesity (2012-2016).

NOTES: * No projection over time is generated for wasting, as it is an acute condition that can change frequently and rapidly over the course of a calendar year, not captured by input data available. Average Annual Rate of Reduction (AARR) and Average Annual Rate of Increase (AARI) are calculated using all data from 2008 onwards for stunting, overweight and low birthweight (recent trend period), and from 2012 (baseline) for the other indicators.

SOURCES: UNICEF, WHO & World Bank. 2020. UNICEF-WHO-World Bank: Joint child malnutrition estimates - levels and trends in child malnutrition: key findings of the 2020 edition ; NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). 2017. Worldwide trends in body mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 2416 population-based measurement studies in 128.9 million children, adolescents, and adults. The Lancet, 390(10113): 2627–2642; UNICEF & WHO. 2019. UNICEF-WHO Joint Low Birthweight Estimates . [online]. [Cited 28 April 2020].;; UNICEF. 2020. UNICEF Global Database on Infant and Young Child Feeding. In: UNICEF [online]. New York, USA. [Cited 28 April 2020].

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