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Food security critical to building peace, stability in Somalia, says FAO

Director-General attends ministerial meeting of IGAD Partners Forum
©FAO/Photo
FAO Director José Graziano da Silva giving a speech during the Intergovernmental Authority on Development "Partner Forum Ministerial Meeting on Somalia".

26 September 2013, New York, USA - Food security is an “essential foundation” for securing “enduring peace, stability, and prosperity” in Somalia, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, at a Thursday ministerial meeting of the east African-based Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Partners Forum in New York.

Co-chaired by the Foreign Ministers of Ethiopia and Italy, the IGAD Partners Forum brought together leading Somali, regional, and international actors to UN Headquarters to discuss ways to “strengthen security and advance economic opportunity” in the country.

In addition to reaffirming their support for Somali’s government, partners praised the recent Addis Ababa Agreement and urged international stakeholders to cooperate with Somalia in keeping with the provisions of the “New Deal Compact” ― a broad development roadmap endorsed at a recent EU conference on Somalia.  The partners also agreed to hold an annual Partners Forum meeting in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The Forum followed last week’s lethal attack on a Kenyan shopping mall ― leaving an estimated 72 dead and 200 wounded ― by Al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliated group which contests the sovereignty of Somalia’s internationally-recognized, Mogadishu-based government.

“The horrific attack in Nairobi this past weekend was a grim reminder of the potent threat posed by Al-Shabaab,” remarked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Forum. “It reminds us that we must give the highest priority to our common goal of building peace in Somalia.”

Speaking at the Forum, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urged donors to honor their commitments to his country. “The worsening of other international crises should not draw the world’s attention and resources away from Somalia,” he stated.

Somalia’s devastating 2010-12 famine, which claimed over 250,000 lives, should serve notice to the international community on the need to help sustain progress on other fronts too, declared FAO’s Graziano da Silva. “There is a vicious circle linking violence and hunger that is not restricted by national borders. In a globalized world, hunger is not a problem of one country, it’s a global problem.”

To avert future such tragedies, added the FAO DG, more pro-active engagement is urgently required. “We cannot prevent a drought from happening, but we can prevent it from becoming a famine. To achieve food security, we need to act before the crisis hits, building resilience.”

FAO, he noted, is working intensively with the World Bank, African Development Bank, and others to scale-up resilience measures in the Horn of Africa, with investments totalling over $300m.