Farmer in Zambia. Photo Credit: Flickr (Anna Fawcus)

While Africa south of the Sahara has seen impressive growth in agricultural trade in recent years, one in four people remains undernourished, making it the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. The Food Security Portal for Africa south of the Sahara (FSP-SSA), created by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with support from the European Commission, is a continuation of the EC-funded project on “World Food Crisis: Support for Food Security Monitoring and Analysis for Appropriate Policy Responses,” a three-year project initiated in 2010 in response to the lessons that emerged from the 2007-2008 world food crisis. To address the shortage of easily accessible high-quality data, the EC-funded project developed the original global Food Security Portal to pool together timely, relevant, detailed, and high-quality country-level information in a systematic and structured way. The FSP-SSA represents the latest step in the project, focusing on regional needs.

The FSP-SSA will strengthen regional capacity for improved food security and nutrition policy research and analysis through in-country networks throughout SSA, and additional in-country dialogues in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal. It also aims to be a focal point of dialogue between food security stakeholders and is intended to foster a better flow of information for policies designed by public and private stakeholders.

The FSP-SSA will serve as a one-stop source of food security and nutrition and early warning indicators and will provide structured evidence and information about the different dimensions of food security to contribute to the design of high quality, timely, and relevant food security policies in the region. The FSP-SSA incorporates a comprehensive scope of food security issues specific to Africa south of the Sahara as well as global issues and trends impacting the region, utilizing a robust definition of food security including food availability, food access, food stability, and food consumption and utilization.

Policies that are formulated without evidence and analysis may not meet the region’s specific needs and could exacerbate the conditions that are fostering poverty and food insecurity. The FSP-SSA will provide an improved flow of information between different stakeholders (public and private) that will better inform policymaking in the region. In addition, it will provide the tools and expertise required to address the multitude of challenges that confront African policymakers. These tools will go hand-in-hand with in-country policy dialogues and learning from key regional initiatives, significantly contributing to improvements in the identification, design, and implementation of appropriate actions to mitigate the risks of food crises and to take advantage of existing opportunities for economic growth and poverty reduction.

Food and nutrition security is a multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder problem, and we need multi-sectorial policies that include the participation of all stakeholders (private, public, and civil society). The FSP-SSA represents an important step in building this coordination and in promoting the strategies that will lead to improved food and nutrition security and economic growth in the region.

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