March 8, 2017 | By

A Food-Secure Future: African Accountability to Food Security and Agricultural Development

On February 1, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs launched a new blog series, A Food-Secure Future, to explore the challenges that threaten global food security and the opportunities that exist to overcome hunger and malnutrition once and for all. We will publish one post each week addressing these issues, and our series will culminate with the release of a new Council report at the Global Food Security Symposium 2017. Join the discussion using #GlobalAg, and tune in to the symposium live stream on March 30.

As we grapple with the challenges of global hunger and poverty, many actors and entities have a role to play—perhaps most significantly, the governments and multilateral institutions of the low- and middle-income countries where these challenges are most pressing.

African institutions in particular have adopted a number of initiatives geared towards country ownership, accountability, and transparency in agricultural development. Here’s a snapshot of the continent-wide efforts that are contributing to strides in hunger and poverty alleviation.

CAADP: A Strategy for Agricultural Transformation

Over the past two decades, the African Union (AU) has championed agricultural development as a tool for economic growth. Alongside the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD, or the AU’s economic development implementing agency), the AU established the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003. A framework for country-led agricultural development, it established two targets to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty—to achieve six percent annual growth in agricultural productivity in 2015 and to increase national budget allocations directed to agriculture to at least ten percent. Within these targets, CAADP also organized around four pillars—to extend the area under sustainable land and water management; to improve rural infrastructure and trade capacity for enhanced market access; to increase food supply and reduce hunger; and to expand the dissemination and adoption of new agricultural techniques and technologies.

Assessments of CAADP have described mixed results in terms of target achievement; as of 2012, 40 African countries had engaged in the CAADP process, while only eight had surpassed the budget allocation target and ten had surpassed the agricultural production target. However, CAADP has positively impacted agricultural value-added and land and labor productivity across the continent. The effort has also encouraged donors to follow and collaborate with CAADP priorities and initiatives—encouraging African countries to “approach agricultural development more strategically.

The Malabo Declaration: Maximizing Impact

In 2014, African leaders doubled down on commitments to agricultural productivity and trade with the adoption of the Malabo Declaration. The targets set forth by the Malabo Declaration included a reaffirmation of the values of the CAADP process and goals to enhance public and private investment in agriculture, end hunger in Africa by doubling agricultural productivity and halving post-harvest loss, halve poverty, triple intra-African trade in agricultural products, and improve resilience among agricultural producers by 2025.

NEPAD released an implementation strategy for the Malabo Declaration in January 2015 to assist the private sector, farmer organizations, civil society, development partners, and multilateral institutions in achieving the targets. It also established a set of milestones with which participating entities can measure progress and operationalize impact. According to the CEO of NEPAD, Malabo has “changed the way of doing business in agriculture,” allowing African countries to better assert their needs and priorities on a global stage.

Country Scorecards: Accountability for Better Results

These initiatives have been bolstered by recent pushes for greater accountability and monitoring within African agriculture and food security efforts. The African Leaders for Nutrition—comprised of representatives from the AfDB, UN, and several African governments and philanthropies—put forward a Nutrition Accountability Scorecard at their first meeting in October 2016. This effort will monitor progress on country and regional nutrition outcomes.  

Similarly, the 2016 Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) yielded a commitment from AGRF partners to develop an agricultural transformation scorecard ahead of the CAADP biennial review in January 2018. This scorecard would measure and track all financial commitments to ensure accountability and action in the CAADP process.

These efforts are all works in progress. But they represent critical steps towards development that is sustainable and country-owned. The more than governments adopt policies to complement agricultural development efforts—policies to expand public research and extension, or increase the ease of doing business, among many others—the greater gains we will see in economic growth and food and nutrition security.

Read previous posts in the Food-Secure Future series:

Social Entrepreneurship in India

Engaging Youth in Agriculture

Innovation in the Face of Evolving Threats

Warding Off Instability and Conflict 

The Promise and Power of Agricultural Development 


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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