Ending Hunger Sustainably: The role of social protection
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In this brief, we focus on the effects of COVID-19 on hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, the region where undernourishment is most prevalent in the world and where the rates of increase are also greatest (FAO et al., 2020). Hunger tends to be concentrated in rural populations, whose livelihoods, incomes, and food security depend heavily on agriculture. In 2014, in the Malabo Declaration, African governments committed to ending hunger on the continent by 2025 through agriculture-led growth, integrating social protection programs and increasing agricultural productivity. The integration of social protection is critical to realizing this ambition, as economic growth alone will not eliminate deep-rooted inequalities and extreme poverty. The evidence shows that the greater the inequality in asset distribution (such as land, water, capital, finance, education, and health), the less likely it is for poor households to benefit from economic growth (FAO et al., 2019). People living in poverty face many constraints that prevent their taking advantage of the opportunities created by economic growth; social protection policies or programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability can help. Despite its importance, however, social protection coverage remains limited in sub-Saharan Africa, where, on average, fewer than 20% of households have access to some form of social protection, compared to 70% of households in Europe and Central Asia (World Bank, 2016).