Food security in sub-Saharan Africa improves

FOOD security in the sub-Saharan African region improved in 2013 as availability improved and incomes grew, the Du Pont global food security index shows.

The average 2013 global food index score remained little changed, at 53.5% from 53.6% the previous year, with

Sub-Saharan Africa showing the biggest gain.

The top three most improved sub-Saharan countries — Ethiopia, Botswana and Niger — rose an average of eight places in the index.

Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the annual global food security index measures food security and monitors the effect of agriculture investments, collaborations and policies in 107 countries.

South Africa was the highest-rated sub-Saharan African country, ranking 39 out of the 107 countries, due to its overall nutritional standards, a smaller proportion of its population falling below the global poverty line and its relatively high sufficiency of food supply.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was ranked near the bottom of the index for affordability, quality and safety, ranking 103 out of 107 for availability.

According to DuPont, urbanisation helped to improve food security in emerging markets, with Sierra Leone ranked at the top of the new urban absorption capacity indicator, which measures the capacity of a country to support the food needs of its growing cities.

"Real gross domestic product in the country grew nearly four times faster than urbanisation in the past three years, suggesting the country may have the resources to support new urban populations, through developments such as urban farming," DuPont said.

The global food security index highlighted food affordability as a greater challenge than availability or quality for most of the African countries featured in the index.