The Political Economy of Human Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa



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Institute for Developing Economies


University of Cape Town


V. R. F. Series

Dramatised in deepening poverty; food and nutritional insufficiency; health and educational crisis; bad governance; violent and intractable conflicts; rising numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons; and environmental bankruptcy among other things, human insecurity has heightened in Africa in recent decades. While this fact is acknowledged, there is little discussion on the structural causes of the problem in the conventional literature. Importantly, there is little attribution of the problem to globalisation. While part of the causes of insecurity are admittedly internal, including bad governance, conflicts and self-destructive public policies, it is opined that external forces have played an unobtrusive, sometimes conspicuous, role in the escalation of the problem. Globalisation along with other external forces exerts pressures on Africa that attenuate the latter’s capacity to alleviate human insecurity. Also, enmeshed in intrusive conditionalities, interventions by Africa’s creditor community in the form of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) and aid aimed at mitigating poverty and other adversities have often aggravated human insecurity. Accordingly, ameliorating human insecurity in Africa should be the responsibility not just of Africans but also of western states.