The Link Between Food Shortage and Political Unrest

The former UN Secretary General has announced that food shortage was one of the triggers of the protests leading to the Arab Spring. He was speaking at the African Green Revolution Forum held during September 26 to 28 in Tanzania, at which, leaders developed concrete plans for the development of African agriculture to promote food security. At the forum leaders discussed the importance of food security as a top priority for governments in order to preserve order and stabilize the African economy. Since most of African farmland is underutilized, if African governments can focus on agriculture, they could feed a greater amount of people, create opportunities for employment, and create global food security. But it is important to understand that it is not only food shortage that leads to uprisings, but that combined with political unrest. Political stability and economic growth go hand in hand and it is for this reason that members of the East African Community are using this discussion as an opportunity to stress further integration. They see political environments as an existing trade barrier and believe that it would be much easier to attract investment if there was a common currency between the nations if the East African Community. They believe that people need to be able to invest without problems and that further integration would create stronger political trust between nations. By linking them economically, states would have greater interest in stabilizing the political environments in their partner countries. But I think what was most important about these discussions, was the realization by African leaders that they need to listen to the will of the people and support democratic rotations. Many acknowledged that democracy must work in Africa because if it does not, the cycle of economic hardship and political instability will only continue. These are all developments that we should watch for as Africa comes to age.


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