Food insecurity is endemic in Malawi, affecting up to 38% of the population every year in the run-up to the harvest in April. Although geographically distant, there are multiple channels through which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can make matters worse this year.
Malawi’s food system has likely deteriorated since 2010-2011, according to a new report from IFPRI’s Malawi Strategy Support Program (MSSP). Severe drought and rising food prices have been the largest contributors to rising food insecurity.
Trade plays a critical role in economic development and agricultural transformation. However, reported intra-regional trade in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) has historically been quite low, potentially impacting poverty, livelihoods, and food security in the region. Over the past decade, policymakers have set out to change this, signing the 2014 Malabo Declaration that aims to triple intra-African trade in agricultural goods by 2025 and establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to remove barriers to cross-border trade.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have wide-ranging impacts on living standards, poverty, food insecurity, and economic stability across the globe. For low-income regions like Africa south of the Sahara (SSA), these impacts are particularly devastating. Many countries in SSA struggled with food insecurity before the outbreak of COVID-19, and the pandemic has only exacerbated those challenges by disrupting domestic food value chains, reducing remittances and other income, and lowering populations’ purchasing power and food access.
Food security in West Africa has been deteriorating since 2015: The proportion of the population affected by undernutrition rose from 11.5% in 2015 to 18.7% in 2020, a total of 75.2 million people. Now, like the rest of the world, the region faces rapidly growing impacts from Russia’s war in Ukraine, including spiking food prices and disruptions in markets for cereals and other commodities, including fertilizers and fuels. What are some of the war’s likely effects on West Africa?