Africa and the Nexus of poverty, malnutrition and diseases

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021 Jul 14;1-16. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021.1952160. Online ahead of print.


This review examines the nexus of poverty, malnutrition and diseases in Africa, the challenges, implications and their mitigation. The paper takes a critical look at available literatures on the primary causes, modes, implications and solutions to the problems of poverty, malnutrition and diseases in Africa continent. Poverty and malnutrition are outcomes of uncontrolled rapid population growth, inefficient agricultural and industrial practices, high debt profile of many African countries due to poor governance and corruption, diseases such as AIDS epidemic, malaria, Ebola virus and COVID-19 pandemic, poor and inadequate health infrastructure and armed conflicts. African poverty scenario entails non-availability of basic human needs which makes many Africans to be very poor. Despite abundance of natural resources, the gross domestic product per capita of many African countries is among the lowest of list of nations of the world. According United Nation in 2009, 22 of 24 nations among the "Low Human Development" nations of the world on the UN's Human Development Index were found in sub-Saharan Africa. Out of the 50 countries on the United Nation list of least developed countries, 34 of them were in Africa. According to FAO data over 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were undernourished in 2014-2016. The prevalence of undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 181 million in 2010 to 222 million in 2016. In 2016, Africa had the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world and estimated to be 20% of the population. While this was alarming in Eastern Africa where one-third of the population is suspected to be undernourished. In a similar data, World Bank also found that sub-Saharan Africa Poverty and Equity Data was 47% with over 500 million people in abject poverty in 2012. Poverty is the major cause of hunger and malnutrition in Africa while hunger and malnutrition escalated the problem of diseases in African continent. Poverty has continued to torment Africa as a result of poor and harmful economic policies, conflict and war, environmental factors like drought and climate change and population growth, poor leadership and greed. With the advent of COVID-19, the problem of poverty, malnutrition and diseases has been escalated and in many African countries people find it difficult to make ends meet.

Keywords: Africa; diseases; malnutrition; nexus; poverty.