The Sub regional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) serves eight countries - Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South- Sudan and Uganda. Agriculture is an important component of the economies, livelihoods and land use of the 8 SFE countries. In the 8 Eastern African countries served by FAOSFE approximately 75.5 million people (of which an average of 49% are women) are economically involved in agriculture either in full time employment or as a main household livelihood. Land dedicated to agriculture in 2011 was an average of 66% of total land area of the 8 countries (excluding fisheries and forestry). While, agricultural production accounted for approximately 31% of GDP in the 8 countries in that same year (FAOSTAT). However, despite the importance of this sector of the economy 95 percent of the food in Eastern Africa is still grown under rain fed agriculture, and is thus highly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions such as droughts, dry spells and erratic rainfall. Agricultural production in the region is also characterized by problems linked to low soil productivity, extensive production systems, land degradation and lack of appropriate inputs such as drought resistant varieties. Millions of people in the region, particularly in the Horn of Africa’s arid and semi-arid areas, are at risk of, or already experiencing food insecurity. The 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa is a recent example of the precarious food security situation that people in the region are in. That drought resulted in up to 12 million people requiring urgent life saving food assistance and was the worst food security crisis in decades. Rising food demand in the region, persistent food insecurity and malnutrition, rural poverty, economic instability, unemployment and climate change are all problems which need to be tackled in the region and this is being done through FAOSFE.SFE is an advisory service center to the countries it covers, with a core team of professionals based in Addis Ababa, it has the capacity to also draw upon a large body of expertise in FAO Headquarters as well as in the Regional Office for Africa (RAF).
The SFE office, composed of a Multi-disciplinary Team with technical expertise in crop and animal production, forestry and natural resource management, land and water management, fisheries and aquaculture, agribusiness and enterprise development as well as policy development among others, is able to support the implementation of initiatives and programmes across the eight countries in the sub-region.
Led by FAO’s Regional Office for Africa (RAF) three initiatives were developed aiming to nurture cooperation between regional, sub-regional and national entities over two biennia (2014-2015 and 2016-2017) in an integrated and coordinated manner structured around significant policy processes and FAO Country Programming Frameworks. FAOSFE will be undertaking all work in the sub-region in line with these initiatives which are:
“Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 under the Framework the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)”
“Sustainable production intensification and commercialization through integrated management of agricultural landscapes”
“Building resilient livelihoods in crises prone areas of Sub-Saharan Africa”
Under the Regional Initiative on Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger, SFE will seek to support the Ethiopian Government in improving their capacity in developing sectoral/cross-sectoral policy frameworks and investment plans and programmes on nutrition and food security. The Government will also be assisted in organizing stakeholders’ forum in support of the High Level Meeting renewed partnership that was held in July 2013, as well as improving policy dialogue on natural resource access and management rights of the vulnerable and small scale producers. Support will also be delivered in terms of strengthening partnerships with RECs in designing an investment strategy in agro-business/industries models and for its implementation which will enable the enhancement of inclusiveness and efficiency in agrifood chains.
Under the Regional Initiative on Sustainable production intensification and commercialization through integrated management of agricultural landscapes, SFE will seek to support countries in planning and implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation measures by strengthening forest management practices in the sub region. Member countries will be supported to elaborate and implement NAPAs, NAMAs and NAPs. SFE will be providing support in the conceptualization of agroecology approaches in crop livestock integrated systems, especially involving the strategies for availing water sources for livestock in dry season reserve areas and livestock routes. In partnership with NGOs and governments in Kenya and Uganda, sustainable integrated innovative practices in all steps of the milk and meat value chains will be provided.
Under the Regional Initiative on resilience, SFE will be mostly supporting countries from the Horn of Africa in strengthening policy advice on productive safety nets and cash transfer in arid and semiarid lands. Key stakeholders will be engaged for advocating the integration of DRR/M, agriculture and food/nutrition safety issues within regional resilience programmes, including disaster specific coordination mechanisms. SFE will be providing technical assistance in implementing sector specific guidance in the area of aquaculture, as well as sharing good practices. SFE will also be undertaking the support of community based planning for risk management and for equitable access of natural resources among vulnerable groups. Livelihood diversification and access to markets for vulnerable communities will be supported through agricultural based SMEs promotion.
In the 2014/15 biennium SFE will focus on providing technical support to the implementation of agreed country priorities in food and agriculture as stated in the FAO Country Programming Frameworks (CPFs) that have been agreed upon between FAO and national governments in the sub-region. This work will be implemented in an integrated and coordinated manner through the 3 regional initiatives which are:
· Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 under the Framework the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)
· Sustainable production intensification and commercialization through integrated management of agricultural landscapes
· Building resilient livelihoods in crises prone areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.