Africa is not on track towards ending poverty for its people.
If only we could take a page out of Mary Poppins’ book and give you a “spoonful of sugar” to help the significant reality go down. But the truth is, Africa’s story was not written by Disney, and the current state of poverty on the continent needs immediate attention.
So let’s not beat about the bush, Africa is falling behind on the road to achieving the United Nations’ Global Goals, and ultimately ending extreme poverty once and for all.
Following the impacts of the pandemic, extreme weather changes, and conflict in some regions, Africa and her countries need our leadership to step up and make some serious decisions that’ll help define her future, and protect her people.
This week, those with the most power to implement urgent change, namely the African Union (AU) leaders, are gathering in Zambia to consider the state of the continent at the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting. At this meeting the AU will set out definitive strategies towards getting back on track to alleviating poverty, protecting the most vulnerable, and continuing the work towards developing the African continent.
So what are the most urgent things for the Mid-Year Meeting agenda?
Well, considering the fact that Africa’s entry into the decade was defined by: being left behind on the mission to ending the COVID-19 pandemic; natural disasters ravaging food supplies and displacing thousands of people; and civil unrest occurring in several regions — including the ongoing war in Tigray, conflict surrounding Lake Chad, South Africa’s poverty-driven looting crisis, and insurgency in Nigeria to name a few examples — there’s a lot to prioritise.
While this list may seem overwhelming, it all boils down to the need to achieve the UN's Global Goals — 17 goals that outline a roadmap to ending extreme poverty and its systemic causes, covering everything from gender inequality to the impacts of climate change. And so achieving these Global Goals must be a major priority for AU leaders.
The greatest challenges facing Africa right now all fall into the mission to achieve the Global Goals by 2030. The impact of the pandemic, for example, highlights a need to strengthen our health systems, which falls under Goal 3 for good health and well-being. The environmental disasters across the continent shows a need for the AU to focus on Goal 13, for immediate climate action. Ongoing civil unrest and conflict indicates a need to work towards achieving Goal 16, for peace, justice, and strong institutions.
Overall, the way these issues (COVID-19, climate change, and conflict) are combining to have a massive impact on food security highlights an urgent need for the AU to prioritise Goal 2, which calls for an end to hunger.
The good news is that we know several of the core issues highlighted in the Global Goals will be discussed at the Mid-Year Meeting. Thanks to media briefings, we’re already pretty sure that these will be the main topics of discussion:
- Strengthening food systems and eradicating food insecurity on the continent.
- The promotion of peace and the eradication of conflict in certain regions.
- The ongoing war in Ukraine and how the loss of essential resources from Ukraine and Russia — such as essential grains and fertiliser for farming — will impact the continent.
- Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first point needs a significant amount of attention — and urgently — particularly as food insecurity and hunger is worsening as a result of the climate crisis, and now the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (SOFI), which was released just days ahead of this week’s AU meeting, has confirmed that world hunger is escalating, and sadly, the African continent carries the heaviest burden, with 1 in 5 people on the continent struggling with undernourishment — the most prevalent case of regional hunger in the world.
Although strengthening food systems remains the AU’s theme for the year, this meeting will be a key place for leaders to put into action strategies that the continent needs to be able to actually strengthen its food systems.
This is the call that Global Citizen is leading with ahead of the AU’s meeting. We need the continent’s leaders to urgently step up and avoid a catastrophic food emergency. This means investing in climate adaptation, giving small holder farmers a necessary boost, protecting existing food supplies, and planning around the inability to access lifesaving grains and cereals from Ukraine.
What action can I take to help?
Global Citizen will be attending the AU Mid-Year Meeting this year, and this means that we’ll have the opportunity to directly call on Africa’s leaders to step up and alleviate poverty — and you can help us make that call by taking action with us. Here are some key actions you can take with us right now to help make sure AU leaders hear your voice and the voices of Global Citizens everywhere.
1. Learn More About the Impact of Food Insecurity in Africa
As mentioned before, food insecurity and ending hunger will be one of the main topics of discussion on the AU agenda. That’s why before you jump into holding Africa’s leaders accountable, it’s important to know just how significant of an impact food insecurity is having on the continent.
Take action by doing an educational quiz to help keep you up to date on the state of food insecurity in Africa.
2. Helps Us Call on AU Leaders to Avoid a Food Catastrophe
Africa is one of the regions worst impacted by global hunger and food insecurity, and matters are only expected to get worse as a result of the war in Ukraine and worsening climate crisis.
The AU’s leaders have it in their hands to start strengthening the continent’s food systems by investing in agriculture and climate adaptation. Help us remind them of the responsibility they have to protect and invest in food sources to help alleviate a growing crisis.
3. Join Us and Call on World Leaders to Invest in Smallholder Farmers
Smallholder farmers are responsible for producing a third of the world’s food, and if we don’t work to protect their food production from the impacts of climate change and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, the hunger crisis will certainly worsen.
Help us call on world leaders to help smallholder farmers weather any storm by signing our petition.
4. Sign Our Open Letter Urging World Leaders to Avert a Global Food Crisis
The ongoing war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on global food supply. African countries had relied on Russia and Ukraine for 44% of their wheat imports prior to the war, and the World Food Programme also had a dependency on the Russia-Ukraine region, with 50% of its wheat being imported from the region prior to the war. With those imports halted, food supply levels and the cost of food is being significantly impacted in Africa and regions around the world.
As the conflict continues, the situation will only get worse if urgent action is not taken. Help us make sure it is, by signing our open letter calling on world leaders to act urgently to avoid a global food crisis.