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Food Security in Africa Requires Securing Women's Rights

Large parts of Africa are currently facing record levels of hunger, and the trend is heading in a more worrying direction. West and Central Africa are seeing increasing food insecurity year after year, and tens of thousands of people across Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are expected to experience “catastrophic” hunger in the coming months.

The situation is, in part, being made worse by climate change, which is increasing temperatures and changing weather patterns, compounding the hardship already caused by droughts. According to the International Monetary Fund, a third of the world’s droughts occur in Sub-Saharan Africa; meanwhile, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the longest and most severe drought on record. These conditions are weakening food systems across Sub-Saharan Africa, an area in which agriculture, forestry, and fishing make up 17.2 percent of the gross domestic product—and substantially more in countries like Sierra Leone and Chad.

But there’s more to this food insecurity trend than climate change; Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has caused uncertainty in the global food market, disrupting the production and trade of key commodities. Russia and Ukraine are significant suppliers of oil, wheat, and maize, and disruptions to the supply chain, combined with local conflicts in some countries, have caused inflation to soar, with food prices increasing as much as 55.6 percent in the Horn of Africa.

Fighting these rising levels of food insecurity requires a whole-of-nation approach. But countries in these food-insecure regions aren’t doing enough to harness the economic and agricultural potential of half their populations: women.

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