African Action for Zero Hunger: FSNet-Africa launches World Food Day Campaign

Over the next two weeks leading up to World Food Day on 16 October 2020, the Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa) is hosting a collaborative virtual campaign organised by the project’s three lead partners – the University of Pretoria (UP), the University of Leeds (UoL) with support from the Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI), and the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). Under the theme “African Action for Zero Hunger”, FSNet-Africa’s network of researchers, thought leaders, and grassroots stakeholders will share their insights and highlight key policy actions to achieve Zero Hunger in Africa. The campaign will conclude with a webinar on Friday 16 October. Professor Tim Benton, member of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, will be the keynote speaker during the webinar, sharing insights from the Panel’s latest report that was released on 29 September 2020. Researchers, policy makers, and stakeholders with an interest in African food systems are invited to register for the FSNet-Africa World Food Day webinar here. Today, as we launch our campaign, the FSNet-Africa leadership team talks about the need for a focus on food systems research and partnerships to achieve Zero Hunger in Africa. FSNet-Africa seeks to strengthen food systems research capabilities and the translation of evidence into implementable policy solutions and practical interventions in support of the interrelated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets for Africa (focusing on SDG 2 – Zero Hunger) and the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. This will be achieved through leading systems analysis research on climate-smart, nutrition-sensitive, and poverty-reducing food system solutions designed and implemented in partnership with relevant food systems stakeholders – including higher education and research institutions, policy makers, private sector stakeholders, and grassroots organisations. Partnerships that transcend boundaries of geography, discipline, and sector – such as FSNet-Africa – make an important contribution to development. Overcoming Africa’s grand challenges cannot be uncoupled from the need to transform the continent’s food systems. One in four people in subSaharan Africa face food insecurity, and Africa will need to produce 80% more food by 2050. The challenge is not only to ensure that adequate food is accessible, but to provide safe and nutritious food to combat malnutrition as African countries are confronted by the triple burden of malnutrition. Undernourishment remains high, with 220 million Africans suffering from chronic hunger, and 58 million children under 5 are considered stunted. The latter are most likely to die from foodborne diseases. Combined, these factors have a significant negative impact on public health and impede development. Forecasts indicate that by 2030 nearly 90% of the world’s extreme poor will live in Africa. Apart from providing food for nutrition, agriculture remains one of the most effective pathways out of poverty. Creating a more nutrition-sensitive and sustainable African food system thus requires the coordinated efforts of all actors in the food supply chain as well as those of policy makers and non-governmental organisations. FSNet-Africa is one of four large projects funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under the auspices of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) partnership programme.