Hunger jeopardizes economy in sub-Saharan Africa | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 15.05.2012
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Hunger jeopardizes economy in sub-Saharan Africa

Widespread malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly threatening the region's economic development, says a report by the United Nations Development Program. Growth fails to translate into less hunger.

Above-average economic growth rates have done little to combat hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a United Nations survey released on Tuesday. The Africa Human Development Report 2012 by the UN Development Program (UNDP) stated that widespread malnutrition in the region continued to threaten the region's economic prospects.

"Impressive growth rates in Africa have not translated into the elimination of hunger," said UNDP Chief Helen Clark. The UN body claimed one in four of sub-Saharan Africa's 856 million inhabitants were undernourished, making it the world's most food-insecure region.

The International monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that sub-Saharan Africa will post 5.4 percent growth this year, on the back of a 5.1 percent GDP increase in 2011, driven largely by oil producing nations.

Tackling the root causes

But food security remained an unresolved issue despite the economic pick-up and ample agricultural resources. "It's a harsh paradox that in a world of food surpluses hunger and malnutrition are pervasive on a continent with ample agricultural endowments," the director of UNDP's Africa Bureau, Tegegnework Gettu, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 2012 report advocates an increase in agricultural activity through greater, but controlled, access to fertilizers and seeds as well as through more investment in irrigation. But such technical aspects only formed a small part of the solution, the report added.

"Nor will economic growth alone solve the problem, as misguided policies, weak institutions and failing markets are the deeper causes of food insecurity," it said.

hg/mll (dpa, AFP)