Poverty & Hunger in Africa

In Africa, hunger & poverty is an issue that’s been long ignored by the developed countries. It’s yet to receive the attention and dedication it deserves in order to face this challenge squarely. The number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa grew from 217 million in 1987 to more than 300 million in 1998.

Africa includes some of the poorest countries in the world.While suppressing appetite is pretty much a modern first world problem, Africa faces issues like malnutrition as well as HIV/AIDS.

In much of Africa south of the Sahara, harsh environmental conditions exacerbate the conditions of poverty. Africa has the highest proportion of its people in extreme poverty and is not on target to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed at the United Nations in 2000.

However, malnutrition doesn’t just affect the kids, it also affects adults. And yes, it’s a problem pretty prevalent even in developed countries like America.

Good nutrition is critical to overall health and well-being, yet many older adults are at risk of inadequate nutrition. As the adult child or caregiver of an older adult, you can learn the signs and risks of malnutrition and how to promote a nutrient-rich diet.

Problems caused by malnutrition

Malnutrition in older adults can lead to various health concerns, including:

  • A weak immune system, which increases the risk of infections
  • Poor wound healing, low levels of growth hormone
  • Muscle weakness and decreased bone mass, which can lead to falls and fractures
  • A higher risk of hospitalization
  • An increased risk of death

In third world countries, however, Hunger still tops all the issues. The world already produces enough food, but the key to eradicating hunger is to ensure that ordinary people in the developing world can get access to it and that it’s affordable. Poverty is the principal cause of hunger.

There has been a recent major shift in African effort to address the continents problems. The New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) and the AU aim to tackle HIV/AIDS, reduce poverty and sustain long-term economic growth. It’s committed to governance and promoting peace and security.

African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring economic activity, such as per capita income or per capita GDP, despite a wealth of natural resources. The bottom 25 spots of the United Nations (UN) quality of life index are regularly filled by African nations.

In 2006, 34 of the 50 nations on the UN list of least developed countries are in Africa. In 1820, the average European worker earned about three times what the average African did. Now, the average European earns twenty times what the average African does.

To tackle poverty in Africa it will take a 100% effort by everyone. An effort which is yet to come by.

Findings of COHA


About the Study

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study is a project led by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency and supported by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

This continent-wide initiative is placed within the framework of the Revised African Regional Nutrition Strategy (2005-2025), the objectives of the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) and the principles of pillar 3 of the AU/NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

The methodology used was borrowed from the model
developed by the Economic Commission for Latin America
and the Caribbean (ECLAC) with WFP, and was adapted
to the African context.

The COHA study is being carried out in 12 countries, namely Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Rwanda, Swaziland and Uganda, in three phases.

The study is completed for the first phase countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Uganda and is currently being carried out in the second phase countries – Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda.

However, following the Malabo declaration in June 2014, which called upon member states to scale up implementation of the study, additional countries have come forward expressing interest to take part in the study. These include Chad,Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and Somalia.

In March 2012, the COHA Study was presented to African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The ministers issued Resolution 898 confirming the importance of the study and recommending it continue beyond the initial stage.


Conceptual Framework

COHA is based on a model that was originally developed in Latin America by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The conceptual framework was adapted to the African context with the support of experts and representative from the national implementation teams of the participating countries. The process of adaptation was carried out in partnership with ECLAC and was endorsed by the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND).

This framework establishes clear linkages between the direct consequences of undernutrition, taking into account the particular structures of the labour market on the continent, as well as the limitations in available data. The result allows the model to clearly define boundaries in the cost analysis, both from a public and individual perspectives, as well as to define a clear differentiation between direct costs and opportunity costs in the results.

The COHA model is used to estimate the additional cases of morbidities, mortalities, school repetitions, school dropouts and reduced physical capacity that can be directly associated to a person’s undernutrition before the age of 5. Using these risk factors, alongside economic, demographic, nutritional, health and educational data provided by each country team, the model then estimates the associated economic losses incurred by the economy in health, education and potential productivity in a single year.

The COHA model utilizes a two-dimensional analysis to estimate the costs arising from the consequences of child undernutrition in health, education and productivity. The incidental retrospective dimension analyses the history of child undernutrition in the country in order to estimate the current economic and social consequences. To complement this analysis, a prospective dimension is used to project and generate scenarios for analysis.