Journal of
Development and Agricultural Economics

  • Abbreviation: J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9774
  • DOI: 10.5897/JDAE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 552

Full Length Research Paper

Exploration of food security situation in the Nile basin region

John Omiti1*, Hellen Ommeh-Natu2 Lydia Ndirangu1, Nancy Laibuni1 and Nicholas Waiyaki3
1Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), P. O. Box 56445–00200, Nairobi, Kenya. 2Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), Entebbe, Uganda. 3Department of Economics, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 06 May 2011
  •  Published: 31 July 2011


The top economic development challenges in the Nile Basin region are food insecurity, poor infrastructure, chronic poverty and political instability. While these issues are interrelated, food security assumes a greater dimension at both national and regional levels. Hence, an eclectic approach is used to underscore food security indicators in River Nile basin. Food security is a multidimensional conceptualization of food availability, accessibility and utilization to sustain a healthy and productive life at an individual, household, national and regional levels, at all times. Using statistics from the World Bank, IFPRI, FAOSTAT, FAO/AGL-TERRASTAT and other studies in the basin, the study reviews food security situation and compares the main causes of food insecurity amongst nine Nile Basin countries. The study found that most countries in the Nile basin region are unable to produce enough food for their population, thus, there is high child mortality and a high proportion of people who cannot meet their energy (calorie) requirements. While food markets play a critical role in ensuring that food is distributed according to forces of supply and demand, they are generally weak, thin and inefficient in most Nile basin countries. As a result, there is limited intra-regional agricultural trade. The study recommends a paradigm shift in technology for the Nile basin agriculture towards people-centered and pro-poor approaches to improve food production, agro-processing and regional trade. To boost food production will require effective technologies for example, certified seed and fertilizer, that are adapted to local conditions and realities, expansion of irrigated agriculture, reduction of post-harvest losses, improved infrastructure (for example,  storage), innovations that promote value addition (agribusiness) and expansion of intra-regional agricultural trade. Both the public and private sectors in the region need to encourage development of technological, infrastructural, and marketing innovations and provide the necessary economic infrastructure and policy commitments to improve food security in the Nile basin.


Key words: Nile basin, food insecurity, production, trade, policy.