The impact of population growth and climate change on food security in Africa: looking ahead to 2050

C Hall, T. P. Dawson, J. I. Macdiarmid, R. B. Matthews, P. Smith

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Providing nutritious and environmentally sustainable food to all people at all times is one of the greatest challenges currently facing society. This problem is particularly acute in Africa where an estimated one in four people still lack adequate food to sustain an active and healthy life. In this study, we consider the potential impact of future population growth and climate change on food security in Africa, looking ahead to 2050. A modelling framework termed FEEDME (Food Estimation and Export for Diet and Malnutrition Evaluation) was used which was characterized to model the impacts of future climate changes (utilizing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios projections) and projected population growth on food availability and subsequent undernourishment prevalence in 44 African countries. Our results indicate that projected rapid population growth will be the leading cause of food insecurity and widespread undernourishment across Africa. Very little to no difference in undernourishment projections were found when we examined future scenarios with and without the effects of climate change, suggesting population growth is the dominant driver of change. Various adaptation options are discussed, such as closing the yield gap via sustainable intensification and increasing imports through trade and aid agreements. These strategies are likely to be critical in preventing catastrophic future food insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-135
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number2
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by a PhD studentship for CH from the Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops (Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee and the James Hutton Institute), and contributes to the Belmont Forum funded DEVIL project (NERC fund UK contribution: NE/M021327/1). JIM and RBM acknowledge funding from the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services, Scottish Government.


  • food security
  • Africa
  • climate change
  • undernourishment
  • diet
  • FEEDME model
  • yield gap
  • sustainable intensification


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