The number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa has climbed, mainly due to the impact of conflict and climate change, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday.
"The number of undernourished people rose from 200 to 224 million, accounting for 25 percent of the 815 million people undernourished in the world in 2016," said Bukar Tijani, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa.
Chronic undernourishment in countries south of the Sahara rose from 20.8 percent to 22.7 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to FAO's Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition report (2017).
Most undernourished populations last year were living in countries affected by conflict, where the prevalence of malnutrition is about twice as high, according to FAO.
Adverse climatic conditions, a sluggish global economy and conflicts are key factors driving food insecurity in the region, said the FAO report. It was launched at a joint FAO/World Health Organisation Africa regional meeting on sustainable food systems for healthy diets and improved Nutrition, taking place in Abidjan,Cote d'Ivoire through Friday.
The rise in chronic undernourishment reverses a positive trend during the first decade the current century when malnutrition fell from 29.1 percent to 20.6 percent, FAO reported.
Worsening nutrition levels in many countries owe to the impact of conflict and adverse climatic conditions such as repeated droughts resulting in poor harvests and the loss of livestock. FAO said.
A total 13 out of 19 countries hit by protracted conflicts are in sub-Saharan Africa.