FAO Regional Office for Africa

Peace and Food Security: two imperatives for Africa’s development

Leaders pledged to change the region’s destiny by gearing towards peace

Photo: ©FAO

8 February 2020, Addis Ababa – The dream of an Africa without hunger may seem elusive, but when governments and partners take bold measures to deal with the root causes of conflict, it could be possible.

In order to address the close connection between hunger and conflict, Heads of States and Governments and representatives of international and regional organizations convene a High-level side event along the margins of the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit. The event, titled ‘Hand-in-Hand in Partnerships towards Maintaining Peace through Improved Food Security and Nutrition in Africa,’ was jointly organized by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Violence derails our gains made through the years. Rampant conflict and emerging crises dictate that it is imperative to amplify our efforts in achieving and sustaining peace,” highlighted Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. The Commissioner added, “For us to move forward, we need to create stronger mechanisms linking food security and nutrition to peace and security. Let us take our destiny into our hands and create more opportunities and robust economies.”

Being in line with the AU Summit’s theme, “Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa's development,” the event discussed the paramount significance of food security and nutrition in maintaining peace and security in Africa as well as launched the Hand-in-Hand Initiative. The event also featured the launch of the joint publication by FAO, AU and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Africa 2019.

Peace and food security in Africa

According to FAO’s latest figures based on the report, nearly 256 million people on the African continent suffer from severe food insecurity. Hunger is on the rise with 20 percent of population suffering from undernourishment.

There is an undeniable link between conflict and hunger. Livelihoods of millions of men and women in Africa are dependent on agriculture and the emergence of conflict has life-changing and serious implications. For people who rely on agriculture, conflicts destroy food systems, decimate crops and livestock resources, and cause loss of assets and incomes. These trigger food insecurity, and malnutrition and hunger.

Additionally, people living in countries affected by conflict are more likely to be food insecure and malnourished. For some African countries, the prevalence of undernourishment is about two and a half times higher in countries affected by a protracted crisis than in other development contexts.

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO, stressed, conflicts trigger a domino effect. They lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, which are also conflict multipliers, especially in fragile states. The relentless cycle goes unchecked if collective action is not in place.”

Hand-in-Hand Initiative – for peace and livelihoods

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 both firmly prioritize inclusive social and economic transformation anchored in peace. To put these aspirations into action, FAO launched the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, aiming at accelerating progress toward eradicating poverty and ending hunger and malnutrition.

FAO’s Hand in hand Initiative is an evidence-based, country-led and country owned initiative that prioritizes countries where national capacities and international support are most limited or where operational challenges, such as natural or man-made crisis, are greatest. With its most sophisticated tools of geo-spatial modeling and analytics, the initiative can identify the biggest opportunities to raise the incomes and reduce the inequities and vulnerabilities of the rural populations, whilst reflecting UN norms and standards that advances all three economic, social and environmental pillars for sustainable development.

Semedo reflected, “Hand-in-Hand responds directly to the call of the UN Secretary-General for transformative change in the 21st century. With the critical support of the African Union and our partners, Let us Silence the Guns by working Hand-in-Hand – for peace and development.”

In his statement, Oumer Hussein, Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia, complemented the partnerships efforts. “Peace is conducive to Africa’s development. Peace and development are invariably interlinked and we will strengthen our partnerships to achieve success.”

About The Regional Overview

The joint publication, the Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, prepared by the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and FAO, illustrates the progress towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.

The report tracked the rise in the prevalence of undernourishment since 2014, a trend that continued in 2018. Today, 256 million Africans, one-fifth of the population, remain hungry.

In addition to these severely food insecure people, nearly 400 million people are moderately food insecure, that is, they did not have regular access to nutritious and sufficient food, even if they were not necessarily suffering from hunger.

The evidence shows that the worsening food security situation in the past few years is driven by conflict, climate extremes and by economic slowdowns and downturns. These recent trend in hunger and  food insecurity underscore the challenging nature of the quest for a world without hunger by 2030 and the need to step up efforts for this goal to be achieved.

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