Explaining Food Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Governance and Institutions

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Gafa, Dede
Chachu, Daniel
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African Economic Research Consortium
The burgeoning literature on global food (in)security suggests that sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is lagging behind the rest of the world despite a period of decline in the prevalence of severe undernourishment. Using panel data covering 34 countries in the region for the period 2000 to 2015, this study examined the correlates and causes of food insecurity in SSA with emphasis on the role of domestic food production, governance, and institutions. The paper also provides evidence on the mediating role of governance by examining how the quality of governance and institutions influence the effectiveness of domestic food production on food insecurity in the region. The paper uses an instrumental variable strategy. The findings suggest that domestic food production and improvements in governance quality, measured by economic freedom and government effectiveness, are fundamental drivers of food security in SSA. We also found that improving the quality of governance would enable countries to better translate domestic food production into reductions in the depth of food deficit and the prevalence of undernourishment. Nonetheless, in the absence of adequate domestic food production, governance reforms alone would be impotent in fostering food security in SSA.