IMF sends warning on African food insecurity

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sounding the alarm as climate change threatens to worsen the impact of food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa.


In a new study, it finds at least 120 million people on the continent face acute food insecurity. This is a 30% increase in just two years. While largely driven by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lasting effects of the pandemic, it’s set the continent back by years.

Climate change will decrease Africa’s already insufficient farming output and researchers say higher temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, storms, and acidification weigh on agricultural yields and weaken the nutritional value of food.

The science of food insecurity

For every degree the temperature increases in developing countries, agricultural output decreases by 3 per cent, according to the study. This knocks economic growth by 1.3 per cent. Overall harvest yields are projected to decline by 5 to 17 per cent by 2050.

Drought-stricken barren landscape with cracked earth

Large parts of the continent are experiencing catastrophic drought

Climate change is already impacting agriculture and food prices. Eastern Africa is experiencing one of its most severe droughts in recent history. While Angola and the South African interior are now half a decade into drier conditions than farmers can sustainably bear.

Urgent action recommended

Social assistance is required to bring resilience to nations and the expansion of reliable public infrastructure, per the IMF paper. There should be improved access to finance and digitalisation. It goes further than making money available. The money should be accessible to those who need it. This requires optimising the entire value chain, from affordable connectivity to mobile banking.

The continent should also implement its intentions to integrate regional trade. A bumper harvest in one region could help alleviate the hunger in another. Currently, less than a fifth of food imports are intra-regional.

Authorities need to act soon, the impact of food insecurity will be severe. 12 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa is already going to bed hungry tonight.