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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Director-General appoints Jacques Diouf as FAO Special Envoy for the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

Former Director-General to assist in FAO’s efforts to promote food security and resilience

FAO Director-General with FAO Special Envoy for the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

12 November 2014, Rome – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today appointed Jacques Diouf as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.

In his new role, the former Director-General Jacques Diouf will focus on strengthening political commitment and advocating for the need of greater investments to improve food security and resilience in the region as well as helping to secure investments to that end.  

His appointment as the first ever Special Envoy “is a clear sign of the continuity of work at FAO in the pursuit of food security” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, introducing Diouf in his new capacity to the Africa Regional Group of Permanent Representatives to FAO.

“I am most grateful to the FAO Director-General for inviting me to continue in another way the work we did together,” Diouf told the representatives to FAO today.

“I am also very appreciative of the fact that Graziano da Silva has given priority to the dry lands of Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa,” he added.  What is important, he noted, is to “translate the commitments in the region into concrete programmes, projects and funding to achieve food security”.

FAO in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

FAO is supporting more than 1.2 million vulnerable people in the Sahel, where the situation remains of great concern.

Quality crop seeds and tools have been distributed to vulnerable farmers for the main agricultural campaign. The assistance is now focusing on the provision of essential agricultural inputs for the preparation of the irrigated cultures and the lean season agricultural campaign, based on vegetable and flood plain recession production.

The Horn of Africa also faces numerous challenges exacerbated by increasing change and complexity in the region. Through its Regional Initiative “Building Resilient Livelihoods in the Drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa”, FAO supports countries and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). In particular, programmes are aimed at ending drought emergencies.

Support from Africa

The Chair of the African Group, Liberia’s Ambassador Mohammed Sheriff, expressed his appreciation to Graziano da Silva for the appointment: “This is recognition of your predecessor, of Africa and of the attention that will be paid to the issues that affect us. This is going in the right direction.”

“We appreciate your choice and the wisdom you showed by choosing him. We give our fullest support to finish your mandate and continue to do more,” he added.

The Dean of the African Group, Congo’s Ambassador to FAO Mamadou Kamara Dekamo,  also showed his support to FAO Director-General’s choice.   

Ebola outbreak and food security

Graziano da Silva also referred to the current Ebola virus outbreak in West African countries. He said that it was vital to provide relief, recovery and resilience. “We need to avoid this becoming a food crisis and to avoid stigmatization, as this is unacceptable,” he emphasized.

The African chair echoed this concern and appealed to the international community and public opinion not to isolate Africa due to fears about the Ebola virus. “We really want to see its total elimination because Ebola in one country is a threat to the world,” said Ambassador Sharif.