A combination of climate change, the Ukraine War, and Covid-19 have exacerbated sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) food insecurity.
The most darkly shaded regions include 12 percent of SSA’s population:
Sub-Saharan Africa’s Food Insecurity
A new paper from the IMF gives us insight about the extent of SSA’s food insecurity and the policies that can provide solutions. Essentially, those policies fall into three categories
Fiscal Policies: The key here is to support agriculture. The programs that range from social assistance payments to infrastructure investment can help local farmers. With financial assistance, households can switch to climate resilient crops. Meanwhile, infrastructure investment in irrigation, electricity, transport, and telecommunications can connect farmers to the markets that can fuel economic growth.
Infrastructure: Meanwhile, the infrastructures that facilitate market transactions need building. Only through a financial infrastructure with mobile banking, an educational infrastructure that spreads literacy, and a telecommunications infrastructure that shares information can SSA’s urban and rural poor move up the economic ladder.
Comparing SSA to emerging market developing countries, we see that SSA financial services are limited to 25.9 percent of the population. In the EMDCs, access is limited to just 3.3 percent. Still, with both groups, we have large numbers of people without access to a financial infrastructure:
Regional Trade: Then, as the last link, through trade, SSA farmers and small businesses can sell what they produce and import what they need. Only then can they benefit from the comparative advantage that encourages regional specialization. Only then can they lessen shortages and optimize the market potential of surpluses.
Our Bottom Line: Infrastructure
An infrastructure is a network of connections. If it’s transport, then those connections include the roads and bridges and airports that crisscross a country. For finance, we are talking about a network of banking facilities that connects savers and borrowers and pumps money around the economy. In addition, an information infrastructure can give farmers weather and banking information. As we describe in a past post, a refrigeration infrastructure can enable crop transport and sale. It enhances nutrition and changes farming incentives when markets become accessible.
Together, as described by the IMF, we wind up with a ripple. With better irrigation, climate shock is less devastating. Then, food price inflation diminishes and fewer people migrate from their farms to the city. All infrastructures can form a synergy that boosts growth.
Where are we? According to the IMF paper, the support that flows to SSAs need more effective targeting to make infrastructure progress.
My sources and more: Yesterday’s IMF blog was especially good as a springboard for understanding African food security. From there, this IMF paper had the details.