The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), paints a grim picture of Africa’s inability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2) two. This goal targets to end hunger and ensure that all people have access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food throughout the year. It also seeks to eliminate all forms of malnutrition.
This information is based on the 2021 combined report of the African Union (AU), UN Economic Commission for Africa(ECA), and Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) Africa Regional Overview for Food Security and Nutrition, published December 2021.
OCHA stated that more than one-fifth (281.6 million) of the continent’s population faced hunger in 2020. This is 46.3 million less than in 2019.
Food security is defined by the UN’s Committee on World Food Security as ensuring that everyone has access to enough, safe, nutritious, and affordable food at all times. This ensures that they can live a healthy, active, and fulfilling life.
It is important to remember that most African countries are still struggling with security and nutrition issues.
Insecurity in any country can make food production difficult, if not impossible.
The African Union-AU is made up of 55 member states representing all African countries. It is divided into five geographical regions. This allows countries to work together towards solving common problems.
It was established in 2021 and launched in Durban in 2022. Its objectives include the promotion of unity, solidarity, and state sovereignty, as well as harmonizing state policy.
It has been a success in increasing cooperation and unity across the continent, and its efforts have been directed towards reducing conflict and encouraging democracy.
Consequently, during its annual Assembly, the AU hosted its Summit under the title “Building Resilience Nutrition and Food Security On the Continent” to give the African leaders an opportunity to discuss various aspects affecting their continent and find a way forward.
Between February 5 and 6, the 35th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State or Government of African Union was held at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Hakainde Hichilema, president of Zambia, was one of the Heads Of State who attended the event. This was his first visit to the AU Assembly.
President Hichilema was given a platform during the opening session to give his maiden speech. He called on African countries for a new paradigm that is anchored in trade and investment.
President Hichilema also urged Africa to reject the narrative of conflict, instability, and poverty that has characterized Africa for a long period.
The Head of State stated that the African continent should be annexed as a continent of stability and peace where the rule of the law is respected.
Let us accept the dreams of youth who want jobs, business opportunities, and the chance to be heard. The African Heads Of State has a unique opportunity to become the leaders that bring about economic integration and change the African narrative.
The President emphasized that Africa has sufficient resources to produce food that can satisfy its food security needs.
He stated that Africa’s unmistakable potential for lifting millions of Africans from poverty is possible through increased value-added.
Let us make sure that our continent’s resources have value-added and do not leave the shores of Africa in their raw form. President Hakainde stressed that leaders must be committed to stability, security, and peace in Africa if the continent is to achieve its goals of economic growth, poverty reduction, and improved lives for all.
The Summit theme was also well received by President Hichilema, who stated that it was in line with the Zambian development agenda.
In his opening address, Moussa Faki (chairperson of the African Union Commission) called for African solidarity to continue in addressing COVID-19’s impact on Africa and the urgent need of dealing with the emerging scourge, coup d’etats, including the threat of terrorist attacks.
Faki provided a comprehensive overview of the African Union’s current state, including issues related to security, governance, and health. He also discussed the actions of the Union and its member countries to address regional issues.
“Africa CDC (Africa) and the African Medicines Agency will lead the promotion of Africa’s public healthcare strategy. They will also be responsible for implementing the AU strategy to resist and win against future pandemics. He stated that the strategy’s high points will include the acquisition and manufacture of vaccines in Africa.
Kaki also described the terror epidemic in Africa as unprecedented and called for a new approach to security, particularly in light of “new factors” in Africa.
“No one part of the international community can be assured about its fate if all the others are not.” He warned that the crisis of multilateralism was real and important in this regard.
Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, disagreed with the fact that seven decades after the founding of the United Nations system, Africa remains a minor partner and has no meaningful input or role within the international governance system. He specifically named the UN Security Council, where Africa is not represented.
Dr. Ahmed demanded that the UN be reformed to reflect global realities and equitable representation. He also reiterated collective advocacy according to the Ezulwini Consensus for Africa for no less than two permanent and five non-permanent UN Security Council seats.
He also called for the creation of an African Union continental media office to provide reliable news, fight disinformation, promote the African collective agenda, and strengthen Africa’s voice in the world.
Our priority should be telling our own stories and narratives. He said that we should have an AU media house in Africa to distribute continental news and combat misinformation about Africa.
Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary-General) addressed the Assembly via video conference. He stated that the foundation of the relationship between these two organizations is the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the AU Agenda 2063.
The UN Secretary-General assured the Assembly that the United Nations would assist Africa in its COVID-19 recovery.
During the interim, the AU Assembly of Heads of State witnessed Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Macky Sall, the handover of Chairmanship, which occurs every year at the event.
Sall stated that he would be focusing on COVID-19 while he was chair. He will work to accelerate vaccine production in Africa and secure more shots from overseas.
He stated that his priorities for security and peace would be influenced by the events on the ground. However, he stressed the importance of counter-terrorism.
During the handover of AU Chairmanship, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, urged the AU members to intensify efforts in strengthening security and peace in the region.
He stated that there was a need to address security issues facing African countries once and for all.
The Assembly is the African Union’s highest policy and decision-making organ. It is composed of heads of state and governments from all member countries.
It establishes the AU’s priorities and adopts its annual program. It also monitors the implementation of its policies.