Reducing Hunger In Africa

The time is right to drastically increase the productivity of African agriculture and to improve human nutrition, with a new and highly focused action plan, called the Doubly Green Revolution in Africa. "Doubly green" means increasing productivity in environmentally sustainable ways (Conway, 1997). In response to a request from the UN Secretary General in February 2003, the U.N. Millennium Project's Task Force on Hunger is developing a plan to attain the Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015 (Millennium Project, 2005). The emerging plan is based on (1) moving from political commitments to concrete actions, (2) policy reforms that give high priority to investments in agriculture, nutrition, rural infrastructure, marketing, and rural women, and (3) three key interventions at the community level. The latter interventions include (a) improving agricultural productivity on smallholder farms through investments in soil fertility restoration and small-scale water management; (b) making markets work for the rural poor through storage facilities, feeder roads, market information systems, and other interventions; and (c) providing school lunches with locally produced food in order to increase school attendance, especially by girls, to enable learning, improve nutrition, and increase local demand for food production.

These three synergistic community-based actions and overarching policy reforms can break the log jam of inaction in the short term, and open the way for other necessary actions to take place if there is political commitment. However, the specter of climate change will make this task even more daunting. The remainder of this paper addresses some additional priority interventions that will facilitate coping with climate change in Africa as well as in other tropical regions.

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