The impact of COVID 19 on food security in Africa has been among the most discussed subjects of the year 2020. Most of the reports were alarming. The headlines put Africa on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Indeed, the pandemic hit Africa when the continent was already under extreme vulnerabilities caused by climate-induced natural disasters, including floods and locust outbreaks.
Despite the suffering of millions of poor and marginalized families, real stories from the ground were rare to find. That is why AFSA ventured to produce human touch stories from the ground, reflecting the devastating hardships of smallholder food producers and workers in Africa.
Accordingly, we collaborated with 21 freelance journalists and writers from18 African countries. This book is the result of their work. They captured interesting stories about the adverse impact of COVID-19 on smallholder food producers, marginalized sections of the community and citizens in the local food web.
We believe this compilation of stories offers broader contextual insight into the breadth and depth of the pandemic on the lives of rural and urban small-scale food producers in Africa. It provides a glimpse of governments’ responses to contain the spread of the virus and how it disrupted the overall food system.
In a nutshell, these stories exemplify how the crisis has disrupted local food systems and economies, putting thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk. The lesson was clear, bold and scary. The pandemic has harmed the poor and vulnerable the most and it is pushing millions more into abject poverty. The diet of smallholder food producers and the urban poor have been significantly reduced and hunger has become rampant.
We hope the book inspires a lesson and serves as an enduring reminder that the surest path to food security depends on how best we support smallholder food producers. They are the backbone of African food systems and a resilient future.