Christmas Eve: Four hard truths about food waste in Africa


Christmas Eve: Four hard truths about food waste in Africa

By Kunlere Idowu

What an eventful year the outgoing year 2016 has been! But before we roll out the drums to celebrate, here are four stark facts still staring us in the face about food waste:


  1. The volume of food that ends up in the dustbin is heartbreaking

Annually, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes or one-third of the world’s food never gets to be eaten by man and thus, gets lost or wasted.


  1. Food waste is an opportunity lost!

For every tonne of food that ends up in the dustbin, you lose an opportunity to make a difference.


Reports say the total amount of food currently lost in Africa annually could feed 300 million people. Wow! Isn’t it an irony that so much food is thrown away, yet, all around us, people are so famished, hungry and vulnerable?


Next time you are tempted to waste food, remember you are sending someone somewhere to bed hungry!


Also read: “Seven simple tips to minimize food waste this festive season”


  1. If you still think you are poor, it’s time for a rethink!

According to estimates, about $310 billion worth of food is lost annually in developing countries. To put that in proper perspective, that’s ten times Nigeria’s originally proposed budget for 2016! Bear in mind that Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy, now think of the difference that humongous sum would have made in other African countries.


Better still, consider this: According to public information, Ethiopia was the largest recipient of international aid in Africa in 2012 with $3billion. In that same year, the top ten recipients of international aid in Africa got under $40billion. But far more (both in opportunities and in real terms), was lost to food waste!


  1. Willfully wasting food is not a sign of affluence; rather, it is a weakness!

Apart from the huge financial losses, food waste amounts to “squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.”


When you waste food, you increase food prints, and you hurt the earth more. It is a weakness to be ignorant of food preservation methods. It is a weakness to flagrantly refuse to adopt those methods.


Rather than taking pride in the volume of uneaten food that ends up in the dustbin from your kitchen this festive season, make the season memorable for someone around you or for someone down the ladder in the neighbourhood! There is someone around you who will be grateful for the food you would have otherwise wasted. Share a meal! Touch a life this season!


From all of us at, this is wishing you “Merry Christmas and a happy new year in advance“.

Kunlere Idowu

Kunlere is an environment and sustainable development strategist with years of active experience in environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement. You may follow him on Twitter via @kunlere_idowu


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