The 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, estimates that about 820 million of the 7.6 billion people in the world suffered from chronic undernourishment; nearly all of whom live in lower-middle-income countries.
When it comes to food shortages, the Horn of Africa is one of the most food-insecure regions in the world. More than 40 percent of the 160 million people living in the region are undernourished, with more than half (70 million) living in areas prone to extreme food shortages. However, this number is higher in Eritrea and Somalia, where over 70 percent are undernourished.
Global hunger is on the rise and one of the culprits is conflict. Conflict and food insecurity are inextricably linked, each triggering and intensifying the other. An example is the Salt War of 1482-84, involving the Duke of Ferrara, salt mining, and the Papal forces of Sixtus IV. With the number of hungry and malnourished people in the Horn of Africa, little wonder the region is one of the most conflict-ravaged areas on the continent.
The region is notoriously known to be volatile, hostile and poor and this has led many to flee from their countries. The third largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab refugee camp which was home to 320,000 people, the majority of whom are Somalis is proof that hunger intertwined with conflict, drives people from their homes and disrupts political dynamics.
Understandably, hunger is significantly worse in countries with agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and severe drought, where the livelihood of a high proportion of the population depends on agriculture and currently, millions of people in the Horn of Africa are suffering from a prolonged drought. However, if conflicts are resolved and peace is upheld in the region, the horn, together with its neighbours can come to a workable solution to ensure food security and eliminate hunger.
According to the Director-General of FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva,
“Building resilience…is indeed fundamental for strengthening social cohesion, preventing conflict and avoiding forced migration. Without that, there is no peace.” However, to ensure lasting peace that would change political dynamics, the region needs to first tackle food insecurity.
Even the World Food Programme’s executive director David Beasley once noted that “If you don’t have food security, you’re not going to have any other security. So we have to address the fundamentals.”
Implementation of hunger alleviation solutions in the Horn would require increased partnerships, conflict resolution and these are part of the things to be discussed in the 8th Tana Forum, taking place from May 4 to May 5 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The theme “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Nurturing the Emerging Peace Trends”, will be discussed and the overall objective will be discussing and following up on peace and security issues in Africa.
The Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa brings together African leaders and stakeholders from diverse spheres and sectors, to examine the changing roles and functions of African member states, as well as engage and explore African-led security solutions in the pursuit of peace and stability.
The Forum provides opportunities for decision-making leaders and institutions to exchange experiences and insights on peace and security issues among themselves with a view to taking home inspiration and practical lessons.
The 8th Tana Forum will examine the current challenges imposed by the changing political dynamics in the Horn as well as discuss alternative prospects for the region, interrogating ways in which emerging peace and security trends can be effectively nurtured to produce the desired positive effect necessary for the achievement of a prosperous Africa.