AFRICA ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK
Past, present and future perspectives

Continued from previous page

Table 3.6 indicates that, taking the period of 1989-91 as base year = 100, the index of food production per capita in Africa was declining during the years indicated for all sub-regions except for North Africa and, to a small extent, West Africa. The same situation holds for the negative average annual percentage growth in food production for all subregions except for the same two sub-regions. This explains why most African countries have depended on food aid, and confirms their state of vulnerability in terms of food security.

Table 3.6 Food production per capita in Africa
Sub-region
Index ( average 1989-91 = 100)
 
Average annual % growth
1980 1990 1993 1996 1999   75-84 85-89 90-MR
 
Northern Africa 93.3 96 101.2 122 115.3   -1.15 0.82 1.8
Western Africa 96.3 97 100.5 102.1 104.3   -0.8 2.5 0.32
Central Africa 116.4 98.5 98.1 99 99.3   -1.6 -0.1 -0.4
Eastern Africa 98.2 101.2 89 87.9 86.3   -0.7 -0.1 -1.2
Southern Africa 114.2 100.2 94.2 95.9 92.2   -2.6 -0.2 -1.2
IOC 114.5 99.3 96.8 104 93.8   -1.9 -1.7 0.1
 
Total Africa 101 100 96 99 97   -1.4 0.6 -0.3
SSA 105 100 96 98 94   -1.5 0.5 -0.5
SSA Excl. South Africa 105 100 96 98 94   -1.5 0.5 -0.4
SSA Excl. S.A. & Nigeria 105 100 96 98 94   -0.6 0.4 -0.6
                   
Source: JES-Preparation WSSD 2001 and Assessment of Progress on Sustainable Development in Africa Since Rio 1992,UNEP

Food insecurity results in: malnutrition and increased infant mortality rates; a heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases; ecologically and environmentally destructive coping strategies; migration; heightened dependency on aid; and stunted economic growth (IPCC 1998, USDA/ERS 2000). Estimates of undernourishment indicated that, in 1996-98, 792 million people in the developing world and 34 million in the developed world were undernourished. The data in Table 3.7 indicate the level of undernourishment in Africa (FAO 2000).

Table 3.7 Food and nourishment in Africa (1996-98)
Sub-region (countries) Food availability Prevalence of undernourishment Depth of undernourishment
Ave. per capita dietary energy supply (kcal/day) Proportion population undernourished (%) Number of undernourished (millions) Average food deficiency (kcal/person)
 
Northern Africa (6) 3 055 8* 10.7* 183
Central Africa (6) 1 898 50 38.5 344
Eastern Africa (7) 1 833 42 52.2 359
Southern Africa (9) 1 736 45 28.6 302
Western Africa (14) 2 570 16 33.0 238
IOC (2)* 2 475 23* 3* 245
         
*Note: Data for the undernourished people in Northern Africa have doubled because of the poor situation in Sudan, and the same is applicable in the IOC with respect to Madagascar.
Source: Extracted from Report of FAO Committee on World Food Security-Assessment of the World Food Security Situation, 2000

In sub-Saharan Africa in 1996-98, more than 34 per cent of the region's population was undernourished; some 185.9 million people experienced an average food deficit of 291 kcal/day. In this region, GNP/capita was US$297 against US$1 205 in the developed world (FAO 2000). Sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as the region which is most vulnerable to food security, and the only region which shows increases in all indicators of food insecurity. Furthermore, the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reduce agricultural production and productivity, and constraints in financial resources will limit commercial imports, leading to declining per capita consumption and, ultimately, to further undernourishment and the risk of famine (USDA/ERS 2001).

In sub-Saharan Africa, domestic food production accounts for about 80 per cent of consumption (USDA/ERS 2000), in a region where 4 out of every 10 Africans live in conditions of increasing poverty (ECA 1999). Farmers and pastoralists are vulnerable to food insecurity because they produce too little, and do not have enough food reserves. They usually have meagre savings and few other possible sources of income. They are more vulnerable to environmental change.

Macro-economic stresses, such as the transition to cash economies, and the penetration by global markets into local economies and the attendant structural changes, further serve to weaken the efficacy of traditional coping mechanisms, and exacerbate vulnerability to food insecurity. Natural hazards and armed conflict present two of the greatest obstacles to achieving necessary coping objectives; that is, increasing agricultural output while seeking additional security through alternative forms of income and stability (FAO 2000a).