Blog Post

More African Countries Facing Acute Food Insecurity, According to Latest AGRA Food Security Monitor

The number of African countries facing acute food insecurity rose in June, according to the latest AGRA Food Security Monitor. The Food Monitor defines acute food insecurity as occurring when more than 50 percent of the population lacks access to sufficient food supplies. Acutely food-insecure countries in the region now include South Sudan (60%), Burkina Faso (59%), and Mali (58%).

In East Africa, most countries experienced IPC Phase 3 (Crisis)-level food insecurity in June and are anticipated to remain at current levels until at least September, the report finds. Food insecurity is being driven by high fuel prices, shortages of foreign exchange, and ongoing economic slowdowns related to COVID-19 response measures. These economic factors have increased food prices and reduced households’ income and purchasing power. The number of people with insufficient food supplies rose by 4.7 percent from May to reach 53 million. The Tigray region of Ethiopia saw Phase 4 (Emergency)-level food insecurity in June due to ongoing conflicts that have disrupted livelihoods and food access. In Kenya, below-average rainfall in March-May is expected to contribute in lower harvests, further exacerbating food insecurity in the country in the coming months. The food security situation in Rwanda, on the other hand, improved in June, where ongoing harvests and easing COVID-19 restrictions increased rural populations’ food availability and food access. Uganda also saw less acute food insecurity in June in many urban areas due to increased food availability and falling prices following recent harvests; however, much of the country remains at crisis levels due to the reestablishment of COVID-19 restrictions to address a recent surge in cases.

West Africa as a whole saw IPC Phase 1 (Minimal) food insecurity. However, the number of people with insufficient food supplies rose by 5.4 percent from May to reach 99 million, and all countries covered by the AGRA Monitor saw an increase in food-insecure populations with the exception of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In the eastern and Sahel regions of Burkina Faso, populations faced Phase 3 food insecurity as conflict disrupted agricultural activities. In Mali, the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced household income, particularly for poor households. However, the country is expected to receive above-average rainfall in the coming months, which could increase harvests and reduce pressure on food supplies. Nigeria faced Phase 2  (Stressed)-level food insecurity in June due to widespread conflict, rising food prices, and reduced household income and purchasing power.

In Southern Africa, good harvests have improved the food security outlook for much of the region. Overall, the region experienced Phase 1 and 2-level food insecurity in June. However, the number of people with insufficient food supplies increased by 7.6 percent from May to reach 19.8 million. The food security situation was similarly mixed at the country level. Food prices in Malawi fell and food availability in Mozambique increased in June as a result of recent bumper harvests. However, ongoing conflict in the northern regions of Mozambique continue to reduce livelihoods and disrupt food access, resulting in Phase 3 food insecurity in those areas. Above-average harvests in Zimbabwe also increased food availability; however, the reestablishment of COVID-19 restrictions reduced livelihoods for some urban households, as border closures restricted cross-border trade and food remittances. The weakening of the Zimbabwean currency has also led to rising food prices in the country.

AGRA also reports that commodity prices, particularly maize, have risen in the majority of markets in East and West Africa over the past 1, 6, and 12 months. Conflict, currency depreciation, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 have all contributed to rising prices. In Southern Africa, maize prices continue to see a downward trend, particularly in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.