|Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability|
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10.2.2. Food Security
Present and future prospects for food security are significant determinants of the impacts of climate change. International agricultural systems and socioeconomic conditions at the household level are major elements of vulnerability. The consequences of present vulnerability for hunger and nutrition are marked. Regional indicators related to food security are shown in Table 10-2.
Food production in most of SSA has not kept pace with the population increase over the past 3 decades. In Africa as a whole, food consumption exceeded domestic production by 50% in the drought-prone mid-1980s and more than 30% in the mid-1990s (WRI, 1998). Food aid constitutes a major proportion of net food trade in Africa, and in many countries it constitutes more than half of net imports. In Kenya and Tanzania, for instance, food aid constituted two-thirds of food imports during the 1990s. Despite food imports, per capita dietary energy supply (DES) remains relatively low (Hulme, 1996); about one-third of the countries in Africa had per capita DES of less than 2,000 kcal day-1 in the 1990slower than the minimum recommended intake (data from WRI, 1998).
Agricultural and economic growth must riseperhaps by 4% yr-1to realize basic development goals. Today, only a few countries achieve this rate of growth. One consequence of agricultural growth could be a doubling by the year 2050 of cultivated land areaat great cost to the natural environmentunless there is greater investment in agricultural management and technology on existing cropland (Anon, 1999). The scale of food imports fosters dependence on food production in the rest of the world. Africa faces the risk that supplies will fluctuate drastically with the rise and fall of grain reserves and prices on international markets. A major challenge facing Africa is to increase agricultural production and achieve sustainable economic growth; both are essential to improving food security.
Agriculture is not only a vital source of food in Africa; it also is the prevailing way of life. An average of 70% of the population lives by farming, and 40% of all exports are earned from agricultural products (WRI, 1996). One-third of the national income in Africa is generated by agriculture. Crop production and livestock husbandry account for about half of household income. The poorest members of society are those who are most dependent on agriculture for jobs and income. On average, the poor from developing countries of SSA spend 60-80% of their total income on food (see Odingo, 1990; WRI, 1998; FAO, 1999b). Although industry is significant in a few patches, it still is in its infancy. In many countries, the level of mechanizationincluding irrigation, processing, and storage facilitiesis particularly low.
High-quality land resources per household have shrunk in Africa over the past 2 decades, often dramatically. Traditional, social, and legal status in the sub-Saharan region is responsible for unequal access to land. This, in turn, increases the risk of resource degradation. Lack of land tenure security reduces the motivation to invest in conservation of resources.
Agriculture and household incomes are characterized by large interannual and seasonal variations. The annual flow of income normally rises and peaks during the harvest season. Nonagricultural and migrant, off-farm wage incomes are substitutes during the dry season. The period preceding the harvest is critical: Farmers engage in unemployment-induced migration to urban centers as one of the strategies for coping with scarcity. Fluctuations in annual food production resulting from climate variability place a heavy reliance on food aid, at the national and household levels.
Reduced food supplies and high prices immediately affect landless laborers who have little or no savings. Poverty, population, and sometimes conflicts combine to affect education in many African countries. As a result of population pressure as well as rural and urban economic depression, population mobility sets in. Populations move from the savanna to the forest, from plateaus to drained valleys, from landlocked countries to coastal areas and those with infrastructures, and from rural to urban centers within a country in search of better lands and opportunities (Davies, 1996). Internal mobility and its consequences vary from country to country: It is low in Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Burundi, and Rwanda but high in Burkina Faso and Kenya and very high in Cote d'Ivoire. Migrations lead to high and rising urban growth across the African region. This translates into increasing pressure on the environment, including social amenities.Continues on the next page
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