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The Vulnerability and Resilience of African Food Systems, Food Security, and Nutrition in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2020


As the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the globe, ebbing and flowing from one region to the next, new infections and deaths continue to rise (Johns Hopkins 2020). Some of the first documented cases in Africa occurred in areas frequented by foreign tourists. Early on, the disease also circulated among Africa’s jet-setting political classes that had spent time in other regions of the world with higher infection rates. Since then, infections have taken off in the continent’s urban areas that are better connected globally via trade and travel. From there, it has spread to smaller cities, towns, and then to rural areas, a process known as hierarchical diffusion (Moseley 2020a). Unfortunately, there is another scourge that accompanies COVID-19, and that is a global hunger pandemic. In April 2020, the director of the World Food Programme warned that an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020 because of the coronavirus. This comes on top of the 821 million people in the world who are already food insecure (Khorsandi 2020). Increasingly, scholars of food security, food systems, and poverty have come to realize that the hunger and malnutrition associated with COVID-19 may actually kill or debilitate more people than the disease itself, especially in regions of the world with weaker social safety nets (Fanzo 2020; HLPE 2020a, 2020b; UN 2020).

© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the African Studies Association

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