FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO leads social protection dialogue at Cultivate Africa

Conference looks at Africa’s response to COVID-19 and crisis recovery to build back better

12 November 2020, Accra – The role of social protection in COVID-19 response and recovery is in the spotlight at two sessions hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Regional Office for Africa at the Cultivate Africa conference next week.

Organized by the African Union Commission, Cultivate Africa brings together diverse stakeholders including governments, the private sector, producer associations and civil society organizations to examine the COVID-19 response impacts in Africa and how the continent can avoid a related food security crisis and build back better. The virtual event runs from 17-18 November.

FAO’s Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo is delivering the keynote address to open the conference on 17 November, joining African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Sacko.

Cultivate Africa will feature eight main thematic areas: government & policy, social protection, domestic markets, intra-Africa trade, supply chains, technology & innovation, women & agriculture, and agribusiness & finance.

COVID-19 and social protection

The pandemic has shed new light on the need for robust, shock-responsive national social protection systems, such as cash transfers, public works and school meals programmes, to help protect the most vulnerable from the economic impacts of crises in the long term.

The first of FAO’s sessions, on 17 November, will explore the approaches and effectiveness of social protection responses to the pandemic. Countries will share their experiences, highlighting gaps, challenges and good practices to improve inclusivity of social protection systems and leverage multi-sectoral approaches.

FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel will share his views during opening remarks for the session. Representatives from partner organizations, including UN agencies, and governments will also participate, and questions will be taken from the audience.  

“Many countries in Africa have implemented social protection measures to varying degrees in response to the pandemic. The sessions hosted by FAO will be an important opportunity for countries to learn from one another and to safeguard gains made before the crisis towards ending poverty and hunger,” Abebe Haile-Gabriel said.

Building back better

The second session, on 18 November, looks at social protection as an essential component of the medium- and long-term recovery effort including building more-resilient, shock-responsive and inclusive systems to better withstand future crises.

The aim of the session is to highlight countries’ effective interventions including promoting and strengthening permanent national social protection systems that other countries can replicate, invest in and bring to scale .

Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, will give the keynote address in this session, followed by five moderator-led group discussions.

Also on 18 November, FAO’s Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa will host a side event on Partnerships for Climate Resilience in the Horn of Africa which will showcase a model of partnership for bridging the gap between climate science and adaptation practice among small-holder farmers.

To take part in the conference and join any of the FAO-hosted sessions, free registrations are now open. Visit www.cultivate-africa.org to register and learn more.    

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