Fact Sheet On Africa: Food And The War In Ukraine

2020 – 2021: Africa was already in crisis

  • Due to Covid-19 global food prices have been rising since mid-2020. Key factors are disruption of global supply chains, transportation costs, port disruptions.
  • 6 million people on the continent, over one-fifth of the population, faced hunger in 2020, which is 46.3 million more than in 2019
  • About 44.4 percent of undernourished people on the continent live in Eastern Africa, 26.7 percent in Western Africa, 20.3 percent in Central Africa, 6.2 percent for Northern Africa, and 2.4 percent for Southern Africa
  • The key factors driving food insecurity in Africa are conflict, climate change, economic shocks.

2022: The Impact of the Ukraine War

  • At least 25 African countries import 30% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and 15 of them import more than 50% from these two countries.
  • Global price increases since the invasion of Ukraine include Wheat = 62%, Maize = 36%,
    Soya Beans = 29%, Fertilizers = 300%
  • African countries like most around the world have little room for fiscal maneuver and are working with reduced resources following the economic shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic

Systemic Weaknesses: Africa’s resilience is weak

  • Only 24% of Africans have access to safe drinking water, 570 million Africans do not have access to electricity, rural road networks are poor and internet connectivity continues to lag behind the world at 22%. Health and education systems remain largely insufficient for the continent’s needs
  • This lack of basic services, combined with marginalization and violation of fundamental human rights has often led to conflict. In 2020, 21.8 million Africans were internally displaced. Many of them are from rural farming areas. Conflicts are highly destructive for agriculture production.

2022: What Africa Needs to Do

Managing multiple successive external shocks requires strong governance capable of anticipating and planning, technically competent to develop and implement adapted policies, accountable to citizens and other stakeholders for measurable results.

In the very short-term African Governments must:

  • Protect the vulnerable. Tens of millions are already experiencing hunger or are on the verge of it. Their needs must be addressed immediately. Working with international organizations, African governments must identify the most vulnerable populations, set up a safety net and social protection mechanisms, then mobilize resources to avert the worst.
  • The long term is now. Almost every African country has a National Agriculture Investment Program as well as other rural development strategies. It is time to accelerate implementation.  From rural infrastructure to marketing and transformation mechanisms, there are plans, strategies and proven success stories.  African governments must make agriculture Priority No. 1 and ensure the governance that increases production, marketing and nutrition at the sub-national level. The way to build resilience is to treat it as an emergency.
  • Stronger together. The African Union must enter emergency mode, pull out the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) along with the myriad of other continental strategies for agriculture, decide on short-term priorities, mobilize resources for them and assist Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and countries to implement. The conceptual work has been done.  It is time to implement.
  • Innovate. Crises enable rapid and radical change. The current situation is an opportunity for African governments to take programs that have been successful on a micro level and scale them for impact. Cassava, chickpea, soybean, maize, sweet potato and plantain are all substitutes for wheat. The techniques for production and transformation are proven at micro-levels.  Governments should scale these solutions, make policy changes and steer consumer habits to locally grown substitution products.  Preservation, transformation, production and marketing technologies all exist at micro levels with proven success. Governments need to select proven solutions that are best adapted to their contexts and implement them to scale.
  • Mobilize internal and external resources. In a time of crisis, people look for leadership and work together where they may not normally have done so. They are also willing to embrace change more quickly. Large scale agriculture programs could enable African governments to harness the energy of women and youth who represent a significant portion of the agriculture workforce, 97.9% of whom work informally. This is a moment to mobilize farmers, introduce new technology and train on large scale. Farmers will be looking for solutions, government must provide them in ways that make systemic change and transform food systems.

2022 -2023: What Africa’s Partners Must Do

  • Mobilize resources. Globally, Ceres2030 estimates an additional investment of USD 14 billion from donors and USD 19 billion from affected countries on average each year between now and 2030 could:
    • Lift 490 million people out of hunger
    • Reducing the prevalence of undernourishment below 3% in every country worldwide.
    • Double the incomes of 545 million small-scale farmers on average
    • Maintain greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture below the commitments made in the Paris climate agreement
  • Simultaneously address emergencies and demand sustainable, systemic solutions. Functional states are essential to transforming food systems, building resilience and addressing emergencies.  In times of crisis, as during the Covid-19 pandemic, enormous amounts of resources are made available to governments very quickly.  If access to these resources are not conditioned so that governments address the systemic issues that led them to the crisis situation, then emergency assistance may just be setting the stage for the next crisis. All assistance should address systemic issues that will make governments more functional and resilient.


  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/ukraine-war-threatens-food-crisis-political-upheaval-across/
  2. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/africa-regional-overview-food-security-and-nutrition-2021
  3. https://www.voanews.com/a/ukraine-war-to-compound-hunger-poverty-in-africa-experts-say/6492430.html#:~:text=The%20U.N.%20Conference%20on%20Trade,half%20from%20those%20two%20countries.
  4. https://www.unwater.org/world-water-development-report-2019-leaving-no-one-behind/#:~:text=On%20a%20global%20scale%2C%20half,not%20shared%20with%20other%20households.
  5. https://www.dw.com/en/can-africa-achieve-universal-internet-access-by-2030/a-59729090
  6. https://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2020/07#:~:text=There%20were%20at%20least%2015,Somalia%2C%20South%20Sudan%20and%20Sudan.
  7. https://www.internal-displacement.org/sites/default/files/publications/documents/grid2021_idmc.pdf#page=16?v=2
  8. https://ceres2030.org/shorthand_story/donors-must-double-aid-to-end-hunger-and-spend-it-wisely/ 

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