2 | Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Report

Key Messages

1.Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the world’s fastest growing populations, but the growth rate of food production has not kept pace. This has led to a food deficit.

2.Agriculture is the dominant land use in the region with permanent pasture accounting for 35%, while arable and permanent cropland comprises only about 8% of the area.

3.Over 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa depends on agriculture for their livelihood and agriculture accounted for 29% of GDP on average between 1998-2000. The livelihood of the majority of the population, which is mostly poor, is being threatened by the rapid depletion of natural resources such as forests, and declining soil fertility. Because of its cross-cutting nature, land use management that minimizes degradation is a priority issue for the region.

4.The nature of farming is changing in many sub- Saharan African countries. As the farm population ages, rural male workers are migrating to urban areas, and many rural areas are becoming urbanized. Another key factor in the changing demographics is the prevalence of diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS and malaria.

5.Women play a central role in agricultural production and household well-being, growing 80% of staple foods. Males, however, are the primary decision makers.

6.Improving the productivity and the economic returns of agriculture has immediate effects on poverty and hunger. Research shows that for each 10% increase in small-scale agricultural productivity (which is the dominant base) in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 7 million people are moved above the dollar-a-day poverty line. The number of people living on less than US$1 per day actually increased from 227 million in 1990 to 303 million in 2002 because of population growth, even though the percentage of people living on less than US$1 per day in SSA declined slightly from 44.6% to 44%.

7. The social and economic consequences of malnutrition are widely felt, not only in the health sector but also in education, industry, agriculture, transport, human resources and the economy in general. Chronic hunger has decreased slightly (from 33% in 1990-1992 to 31% in 2001-2003) but the absolute number of people suffering from hunger has increased. Increased population growth has resulted in a decrease in the proportion of the population with chronic hunger. Malnutrition in children under five years was 30% between 1995-2002. There has not been much change in the extent of malnourishment in SSA: 31% of the population was undernourished between 1990- 1992 and increased slightly to 32% between 2001-2003.

8.Rapid depletion of natural resources such as forests and declining soil fertility threatens the livelihoods of


poor people. Land use and degradation are priority issues for the region because of their cross-cutting impacts on other resources and human activities, particularly agriculture. Soil moisture stress inherently constrains land productivity on 85% of soils in Africa and soil fertility degradation now places an additional human-induced limitation on productivity.

9. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most vulnerable region in the world to climate change. Climate variability is an important atmospheric phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa, where climatic conditions are uncertain and display a high degree of variability. Analysis of long-term trends (19002005) indicates rising temperatures in Africa as a whole, as well as drying, or decreased precipitation. This change causes significant climatic disturbances in many parts of the continent, either inducing drought or flooding, or increasing sea temperatures, which lead to cyclones, particularly over the Indian Ocean.

10.With growing demand for water resources from all sectors, it is projected that by 2025, thirteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa will experience water stress and another ten countries will suffer from water scarcity. With global warming, changes in rainfall and temperature patterns are likely to be inevitable and will negatively affect water availability.

11.The principal threats to biodiversity in Africa include land use and land cover change, mainly through conversion of natural ecosystems, particularly forests and grasslands, to agricultural land and urban areas. It is likely that land clearing and deforestation will continue and hence threaten genetic diversity as species loss occurs.

1.1      IAASTD Conceptual Framework

The primary goal of the IAASTD is “to assess how we can reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and facilitate equitable, socially, environmentally and economically sustainable development through the generation, access to and use of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology.” IAASTD uses a conceptual framework (Figure 1-1) that enables a systematic analysis and appraisal of the above challenges based on common concepts and terminology.

 An assessment is a critical, objective evaluation and analysis of available information designed to meet user needs and to support decision-making. It is an application of experts’ judgment of existing knowledge, including traditional and local knowledge, with a view to providing scientifically credible answers to policy-relevant questions, quantifying the level of confidence wherever possible.

Agriculture in this report is defined broadly to include agricultural systems consisting of crops, livestock and pastoralism, fisheries, biomass, agricultural goods and services, and land management activities such as forestry and agroforestry.

 The conceptual framework describes the linkages between the elements of the framework and how they will be addressed. Direct drivers are: availability and management of natural resources, climate change, labour, energy and AKST use. Indirect drivers can be characterized as eco-