Demographic Projections, the Environment and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

01 Feb 2012


This paper considers what we know about the relationship between population and food security and what population projections suggest will be the case over the next half century. We cannot predict the constraints or possibilities that will determine future population trends, however population projections allow us to talk about the present and to appreciate the challenges of the future. The current size and pace of growth of the human population is unprecedented. The number of people to be fed in a population is determined by four possible flows: people enter or leave a population, by being born, dying, migrating in, or migrating out.


Demographers make projections under strong and cons ervative assumptions of a constant situation. Population projections are esti mated on the basis of the basic components of population growth remaining constant. This assumption is necessary for projections. However, population forecasts are based on anticipated changes in the basic components of population growth. In the situation of no change, the population growth in Sub-Saharan African nations will continue to contribute to environmental degradation especially in situations where land holdings have become smaller and smaller. In the situation of positive changes such as declines in fertility, improved access to safe and nutritious food, increasing education, and land reform, population growth may not be a significant problem for food security.

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