Earth globe African continent

Is Child Hunger in Africa Really That Bad?

The short answer – yes. In fact, hunger in Africa is likely worse than the average person might imagine. A 2018 report by the African Child Policy Forum states that about 90 percent of children in African do not meet the criteria for the minimum meal standard and that a child dies every three seconds due to hunger. Compare this to the United States where the amount of food wasted daily could fill a 90,000 seat stadium like the Rose Bowl. But what causes this lack of access to healthy, sustainable food sources and what can you do to help?

Why is there hunger in Africa?

Hunger is an outcome for a wide variety of different issues. One of these major issues is poverty. With more than 48 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa living below the poverty line, lack of economic resources is evidently a hugely contributing issue.

Smiling african children

According to a 2013 report by the World Bank, almost 43 percent of sub-Saharan Africa lived on $1.90 or less each day. For context, a loaf of bread in South Africa costs about $0.83. However, poverty is not the only cause. Hunger in Africa is also largely due to political unrest and civil war which in turn causes food shortages and leads to widespread famine. This, combined with diseases like Malaria and AIDS, means that people often have to choose between food and medicine if they even have access to either.

What causes child hunger in Africa?

Narrowing down our focus and looking specifically at child hunger in Africa, we must understand the gender inequality that is prevalent on the continent, especially in impoverished areas. The 2016 African Human Development report from the United Nations finds that gender inequality in almost all African countries is strikingly bad. Women earn only 70 percent of what men do, and they are also faced with many types of social inequality which leads them to be at a higher risk for physical and sexual abuse. Without adequate access to education (medical or general) or resources for birth control, women find themselves in a socially and economically underprivileged position, and often with children that they must care for without aid. It is important to note that gender inequality is by no means the only reason that there is extreme child hunger in Africa, but it is a greatly contributing factor that needs to be addressed.

Where is hunger the worst in Africa?

The worst hunger within Africa is found within the sub-Saharan region. According to the Food Security Index (0 being the worst and 100 being the best), within sub-Saharan Africa, Burundi (34.3), the Democratic Republic of Congo (35.7), Chad (36.9), and Madagascar (37.9) have the lowest food security scores. Additional research by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that severe food insecurity is found most prominently in central Africa where around 50 percent of the population is affected. This is followed by Eastern Africa where there is moderate food insecurity that affects about 32 percent of the population.

 In Northern Africa, Algeria (59.8) and Tunisia (60.1) have some of the lowest-rated food security scores, but they are still almost double the scores of countries located in sub-Saharan Africa.

How many people in Africa have no food?

According to the United Nations, the highest prevalence of hunger in the world is found in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, between 2014 and 2017 the prevalence of hunger actually increased from 20.7 percent to 23.2 percent. The number of undernourished people also rose during the same period from 195 million to 237 million. 

How many children are malnourished in Africa?

“At least 1 in 3 children under-five in Africa were stunted in 2011” according to UNICEF. Stunted growth is a result of malnutrition that can happen during pregnancy or during early childhood. Additionally, as of 2012, half of the 6.6 million under-five deaths in the world, still occurred in Africa, in large part due to lack of access to proper nutrition.

African children are smiling in the building

Fast Facts

  • One in every five people in Africa goes to bed hungry.
  • According to the World Bank, over one-third of child deaths in South Africa are caused by malnutrition. 
  • In 2018, more than 20 percent of the population in Africa was undernourished.
  • According to UNICEF, between 2000 and 2018, the number of children under five who were stunted in West and Central Africa increased from 22.4 million to 28.9 million.
  • About one-quarter of all wasted (low weight for height) children live in sub-Saharan Africa.


How You Can Help

One of the best ways that you can help starving children is to donate. Your money goes a long way. Two mornings without a latte ($10) feeds 20 children and just $20 can feed 50 children. Food for Life is the most cost-efficient food relief program in the world. A major reason for this is because all meals are plant-based. This means that malnourished children get all of the nutrients, vitamins, protein, and calories they need without harming animals or the environment.

You can also volunteer with Food for Life. No matter your skills, we have something for you. From fundraising experts to Google console techs, your experience and talents are valuable and can help save lives. Many opportunities are virtual, so there is no need to worry about getting to one of our locations. Volunteering is a great way to not only give back, but to show your commitment to a healthy, sustainable, and moral world.
Support the important work of Food for Life Global to serve its international network of over 200 affiliates in 60 countries.
Food for Life Global is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, EIN 36-4887167. All donations are deemed tax-deductible absent any limitations on deductibility applicable to a particular taxpayer. No goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution.
Food For Life Global’s primary mission is to bring about peace and prosperity in the world through the liberal distribution of pure plant-based meals prepared with loving intention.