Skip to main content
Home » Global Resilience » In Africa, an extra helping of prevention and preparedness can boost food security
Global Resilience 2024

In Africa, an extra helping of prevention and preparedness can boost food security

Iain Shuker

Regional Director for Sustainable Development in Eastern and Southern Africa, World Bank

Facing the worst food crisis since 2016, Sub-Saharan Africa’s 110 million people in acute food insecurity need urgent, climate-smart solutions for lasting resilience.

With headlines regularly touting the hottest summer or the worst disease outbreak, it may be hard to focus the world’s attention on growing food insecurity. Yet, this year marks the worst food security crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) since 2016. As of April 2024, an estimated 110 million people were in acute food insecurity in SSA. Globally, most countries experiencing food crises are concentrated in Africa.

Conflict and climate shocks exacerbating crises

The reasons are manifold, but conflict and climate shocks are key drivers. Sudan has faced the most significant deterioration due to the devastating impacts of conflict since April 2023. El Niño has wreaked havoc in the region with severe weather events, including drier and hotter conditions in some places and heavier rains in others.

These events are hardly anomalous. As a result of climate change, these events are occurring at a much greater frequency than in the past. Countries that face consecutive crises have less and less time to recover. Malawi, for example, was struck by cyclone Anna in 2022 and cyclone Freddy in 2023; it is now grappling with a combination of dry conditions and flash floods. Consequently, food is less available, and prices have gone up, forcing households to reduce their food intake.

Countries that face consecutive crises
have less and less time to recover.

Adaptation and food security planning

Since crises appear more and more as ‘the new normal,’ governments and development partners are starting to integrate them into their planning. At the World Bank, we are rolling out a new Crisis Response Toolkit, which will help countries provide faster relief when disasters hit — and save more lives.

Beyond emergency responses, we’re doubling down on the medium and long-term resilience agenda by helping countries address the root causes of food insecurity. Food System Resilience Programs, financed by the World Bank on an unprecedented scale, are now helping 15 countries and six regional organisations invest in climate-smart agriculture and integrated landscape management. Additionally, they are working to improve digital advisory services for farmers and strengthen strategic value chains. Another focus is promoting resilience in policymaking.

From Senegal to Madagascar, ministries, experts and farmers are having to adapt to rapid change. They always have reaped what they sowed. Now, more than ever, spending today for tomorrow’s resilience — and having access to cash when crops fail — is the most prudent way to boost food security.   

Next article