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Cost and affordability of healthy diets across and within countries

Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study No. 9













​Herforth, A., Bai, Y., Venkat, A., Mahrt, K., Ebel, A. & Masters, W.A. 2020. Cost and affordability of  healthy diets across and within countries. Background paper for The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study No. 9. Rome, FAO. 




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    A healthy diet of fresh vegetables, proteins and fruit is a key ingredient for eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger by 2030. Unfortunately, a healthy diet has become an unaffordable luxury for close to 1 billion Africans, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report. Globally, the cost of a healthy diet is above the international poverty line, meaning that people earning less than US$1.90 per day cannot afford to eat adequate calories and nutrients from diverse food groups. Compared to other regions, this affordability crisis poses the greatest challenge in Africa. COVID-19 has compounded the problem by disrupting food supply chains and livelihoods, to different extents across the continent. Ultimately, it has meant some households are facing increased difficulties in accessing nutritious foods. That’s not all. At the height of the pandemic, movement restrictions meant fewer customers at fruit and vegetable markets in some urban centres, causing fresh produce to go to waste. Fishmongers faced similar problems. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa had the highest prevalence of undernourishment - more than twice the global average - and the fastest growth in the number of hungry people compared to other regions. If recent trends persist, Africa will overtake Asia to become the region with the highest number of undernourished people, accounting for half of the total in 2030. Bold actions – in communities, parliaments and internationally – are needed to transform food systems, make healthy diets affordable and drive progress towards the realization of SDG 2. FAO’s work in Africa is driven by these aims, and there are a lot of winning interventions that are bringing hope and better nutrition to many communities. Stories from Africa: Nutrition highlights FAO’s cross-cutting work on nutrition: from micro-gardens in Senegal to innovative farming techniques in Eritrea, and from raising chickens in Cameroon to promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Rwanda. These hope-filled stories show that through hard work, innovation and partnerships, ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is still possible despite the global challenges
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    Book (series)
    Africa regional overview of food security and nutrition 2020: Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets 2021
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    Africa is not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 targets to end hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition. The number of hungry people on the continent has risen by 47.9 million since 2014 and now stands at 250.3 million, or nearly one-fifth of the population. The 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions of this report explain that this gradual deterioration of food security was due to conflict, weather extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns, often overlapping. A continued worsening of food security is expected also for 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to hunger, across all countries in Africa millions of people suffer from widespread micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity are emerging as significant health concerns in many countries. This report shows that the food system in Africa does not provide food at a cost that makes nutritious food affordable to a majority of the population, and this is reflected in the high disease burden associated with maternal and child malnutrition, high body-mass, micronutrient deficiencies, and dietary risk factors. The report also shows that current food consumption patterns impose high health and environmental costs, which are not reflected in food prices. The findings presented in this report highlight the importance of prioritizing the transformation of food systems to ensure access to affordable and healthy diets for all, produced in a sustainable manner.
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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Africa regional overview of food security and nutrition 2020
    Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets
    2021
    Also available in:
    No results found.

    Africa is not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 targets to end hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition. The number of hungry people on the continent has risen by 47.9 million since 2014 and now stands at 250.3 million, or nearly one-fifth of the population. The 2017, 2018, and 2019 editions of this report explain that this gradual deterioration of food security was due to conflict, weather extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns, often overlapping. A continued worsening of food security is expected also for 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to hunger, across all countries in Africa, millions of people suffer from widespread micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity are emerging as significant health concerns in many countries. This report shows that the food system in Africa does not provide food at a cost that makes nutritious food affordable to a majority of the population, and this is reflected in the high disease burden associated with maternal and child malnutrition, high body-mass, micronutrient deficiencies, and dietary risk factors. The report also shows that current food consumption patterns impose high health and environmental costs, which are not reflected in food prices. The findings presented in this report highlight the importance of prioritizing the transformation of food systems to ensure access to affordable and healthy diets for all, produced in a sustainable manner.

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