Most African governments (3 in 4) spend more on weapons, less on farms


According to the Oxfam report, chronic underinvestment in agriculture is a major driver of widespread hunger in 2022. Credits: Busani Bafana/IPS.
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

Africa is home to a quarter of the world’s total agricultural area. Nevertheless, in the 12 months that African leaders pledged to improve food security on the continent, more than 20 million people have been pushed into “severe hunger”.

Today “one-fifth of Africa’s population (or 278 million) is undernourished, and 55 million of its children under five are stunted due to severe malnutrition,” adds Oxfam International to the above data in its report: More than 20 million more people going hungry in Africa’s “year of nutrition”.

“The hunger faced by the African population today is a direct result of inadequate political choices…,” said Fati N’Zi-Hassane, Oxfam’s Africa director.

Chronic underinvestment

The report further explains that chronic underinvestment in agriculture is a major driver of widespread hunger in 2022.

More specifically, it adds, the majority of African governments (48 out of 54) reportedly spend an average of 3.8% of their budget on agriculture, with some as little as 1%.

“Nearly three-quarters of these governments have cut their agricultural spending since 2019, falling short of their commitments in Malabo to invest at least 10% of their budget in agriculture.”

In 2014, African leaders signed the Malabo Declaration, which stipulated that African governments must spend at least 10% of their budget on agriculture and supporting farmers.

Politicians double military spending

In contrast, “African governments spent nearly double that budget (6.4%) on arms last year. Ongoing conflicts, especially in the Sahel and Central Africa, continue to destroy farmland, displace people and fuel hunger.”

In addition, “exacerbated climate-induced droughts and floods, and a global rise in fuel and fertilizer prices, made food out of reach for millions of people. In 2022 alone, food inflation rose by double digits in all but ten African countries.”

No access to neighboring markets

As the 36th African Union Summit was held in February 2023, with a focus on intracontinental free trade, “millions of small farmers, who are vital food producers on the continent, are unable to reach markets in neighboring countries due to poor infrastructure and high intra-African prices.”

In other words, “many African countries find it cheaper to import food from outside the continent than from their neighbour.” According to Oxfam:

  • As of August 2022 (the latest available figure), 139.95 million people in 35 African countries were living in “crisis or worse, acute food insecurity”. That is an increase of 17% (20.26 million people) compared to the same number a year earlier (119.69 million people).
  • South Sudan spends less than 1% of its budget on agriculture. Calculations of all agricultural expenditure in Africa are based on data from the Government Expenditure Watch, national budgets and FAO.
  • According to the CAADP report and the FAO Crop Prospects report, grain production in Africa will reach 207.4 million tons in 2022, a decrease of 3.4 million tons from the average of the previous five years.

Fivefold increase in extreme weather events

Increasing hunger in Africa – imposed from both the outside and the inside – is just one part of a widespread drama.

In fact, climate change is fueling the hunger of millions of people around the world. “Extreme weather events have increased fivefold over the past 50 years, destroying homes, decimating livelihoods, fueling conflict and displacement and increasing inequality,” Oxfam reports.

Hunger more than doubled

Climate change has led to more frequent and intense droughts, floods and heat waves. “The number of disasters has increased fivefold in the last 50 years.”

This is hitting low-income countries hardest, Oxfam continues, adding that the 10 countries with the highest UN calls for extreme weather events since 2000 have seen a 123% increase in the number of people experiencing extreme hunger – from 21 .3 million to 47.5 million.

These countries are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Somalia and Zimbabwe. According to this data, 7 of these 10 countries are African.

Fossil fuel staggering profits

The G20 countries are among the most polluting countries in the world, collectively responsible for nearly 77% of carbon emissions, reports Oxfam, a global movement of people working together to end the injustice of poverty by reducing inequality. suits that keep people poor.

It is extraordinary that while humanity faces this existential crisis, there are still more incentives to destroy our planet than to save lives.

“The oil and gas industry has made staggering profits while wreaking havoc on the planet — $2.8 billion a day (or more than $1 trillion a year) for the past 50 years.”

Seismic hunger

For its part, the World Food Program (WFP) reports that the current seismic hunger crisis has been caused by a deadly combination of factors: conflict, economic shocks, climate extremes combine to create a food crisis of unprecedented proportions.

So much so that “as many as 828 million people aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.”

In its report ‘2023: Another year of extreme danger for those struggling to feed their families’, WFP warns that a record 349 million people in 79 countries will face acute food insecurity – up from 287 million in 2021. This is a staggering increase of 200 million people compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

More than 900,000 people around the world are struggling to survive in famine-like conditions, the world body reports, adding that this is “ten times more than five years ago, an alarmingly rapid increase”.

In short, politicians, even in the countries most needed and most exposed to dizzying hunger, continue to place more importance on spending on weapons that fuel conflict and on fuels that spread climate catastrophes, rather than investing in saving the lives of their own people.

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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