The spread of Covid-19 throughout Southern Africa is worsening the region’s already dire rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, pushing millions more people into poverty and hunger.
Regional experts on food insecurity from the World Food Programme (WFP), ActionAid and the Eastern and the Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF), will be sharing the latest from the frontlines of the food and climate crisis.
Time is running out for governments to act, as hunger is already increasing among people in urban areas, who rely on local food markets where prices are soaring, and in rural households that depend on remittances, tourism and school meal programmes, which have all stopped due to Covid-19. Rural food insecurity is predicted to reach a peak between November 2020 to January 2021, when most family farmers are expected to have exhausted their own food supplies.
A new policy brief by ActionAid and the Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers Forum (ESAFF) highlights the roots of the escalating food crisis in a systemic failure of regional policies, including an over-reliance on food imports and missed opportunities to invest in climate resilient agricultural practices.
It calls for transformation of agricultural development to improve climate resilience and accountability, with a focus on women farmers, who contribute more than 60% of total food production in the region.
The latest figures from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) supported by the WFP, show that 44.8 million people in Southern Africa are food insecure, meaning they do not have access to enough affordable, nutritious food. This is a shocking increase of 67% since 2017 and up 10% from last year, when 41.2 million people were facing food insecurity.
In Zimbabwe, the most severely affected country, the number of food insecure people is likely to double by the end of 2020: about 8.6 million people, including 5.3 million people in rural areas and 3.3 million people in urban areas.
Zambia and Malawi are also severely affected while Mozambique is facing not only food insecurity but an increasing threat from terrorism.
A recording of this briefing is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DevAsPEfDyGo-yyKph1P7z-mxMjtKYJa/view?usp=sharing