ARC/00/6


 

TWENTY-FIRST
FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE
FOR AFRICA

Yaounde, Cameroon, 21-25 February 2000

WORLD FOOD SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP: ACTIONS TAKEN AT REGIONAL AND SUBREGIONAL LEVEL TO IMPLEMENT THE PLAN OF ACTION

Table of Contents


 


Introduction

1. In the Rome Declaration on World Food Security endorsed by the World Food Summit in 1996, the leaders of 186 countries solemnly undertook to halve by the year 2015 the number of victims of hunger, estimated in 1990-1992 at 830-840 million persons in the developing world, 37 percent of them in Africa.

2. Further estimates on food insecurity for 1995-1997 indicated that 790 million people, more than the total population of North America and Europe, were still suffering from chronic malnutrition. While the number of undernourished thus fell by about 40 million from the 1990-1992 estimates, despite these efforts "the continent of hungry is made up of men, women and children who will perhaps never reach their full physical and mental potential, because they do not have enough to eat; many of these will even end up dying because their fundamental right to food will have been flouted. This state of affairs is unacceptable", declared Dr. J. Diouf, Director-General of FAO.

3. The present pace of reduction in number of hungry - about 8 million people per year - corresponds more to the normal progress of development. Unless the rate increases, there will still be over 638 million people suffering from poverty and hunger in the year 2015, with the majority living in the developing countries, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa.

4. At the World Food Summit, the Governments explicitly recognized the fundamental contribution of women to food security, notably in rural areas of developing countries. They therefore stressed the need to revitalise rural society in order to foster social stability, reduce excessive outmigration and promote, in an egalitarian manner, the full participation of women in the economy by guaranteeing them equitable access to productive resources, especially credit, land and water. They also undertook to promote investment in food security programmes geared towards small producers, in particular women and their representative organizations.

I. NATURE OF THE PROBLEMS AND CAUSES OF FOOD INSECURITY

I.1 The scale of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa

5. Access to food is particularly critical in the so-called low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). These countries do not produce enough food to cover the needs of their population and do not have the financial means to import the quantities needed to make up the shortfall. Moreover, instability of supply and demand together with natural and human-caused disasters (social or armed conflicts) make it difficult to satisfy basic food needs. Of the 86 countries in the LIFDC category, 43 are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The severity of the problem varies from one African subregion to another. Although West Africa is more populated than any other African subregion, it has the lowest number of hungry (about 18%), while East Africa, with a far smaller population, has more than twice as many (42%). The proportion is also higher in Central and Southern Africa which are also far more lightly populated. Some 44 percent of the 340 million people living in the 26 countries that make up these three subregions are undernourished. Food production has made rapid progress in West Africa, notably in Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and a number of other countries, but two out of every five persons still do not have an adequate food intake. The food situation in the other subregions has further deteriorated, primarily due to political instability in Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo Brazzaville and in the Great Lakes Countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I.2 The principal categories of victims of food insecurity

6. Undernourishment and malnutrition are essentially linked to three factors: poverty, low agricultural production and irregular weather patterns, in addition to others mentioned below. With the new technology provided by the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) the victims of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa can be classified into the following categories:

I.3 The main causes of food insecurity and vulnerability

7. The African continent, which is more familiar with the pangs of hunger than any other region in the world, is ravaged by an array of armed conflicts occurring within countries or between neighbouring countries (Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Casamance region of Senegal, etc.). These troubles, which arise from political crises, not only cause terrible human suffering, including massive population displacement and the enforced recruitment of children, but also paralyze production structures and absorb virtually all of the national and international financial resources that should have been allocated to development programmes. In Angola, for example, the resumed fighting has caused some two million people to flee their homes and the countryside to take shelter in the besieged towns where they depend almost exclusively on air-lifted supplies for survival and where famine assumes truly catastrophic proportions among the displaced persons. Even though the situation is improving in Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda and Liberia as a result of agreements between the warring parties, food supply is still a source of concern, especially for the women, children and mutilated adults. In Sudan, the percentage of needs met this year is far below that of 1998.

8. In many parts of Africa, irregular weather patterns (drought, floods), isolation of agricultural regions and environmental degradation all contribute towards significantly reducing the rate of growth of agricultural and food production.

9. Social constraints restrict agricultural and rural development in Sub-Saharan Africa: low level of literacy and schooling, insufficient access to safe water for humans and livestock, poor dietary habits, low health-care coverage, spread of malaria and HIV disease, and uncontrolled population growth.

10. Serious financial and economic constraints hamper the development of the agricultural sector: sizeable external debt, disequilibrium of public finances and balance of payment, low level of domestic savings, limited proportion of national financial resources allocated to the agricultural sector, low participation of basic infrastructure and the private sector in the economy, export essentially confined to primary commodities, stagnation or regression of the industrial sector and restricted markets which, coupled with the serious difficulties of national institutions in formulating and implementing appropriate policies, exacerbate resource degradation and increase the level of unemployment, therefore fuelling social disruption.

11. The technical constraints essentially translate as limited application of technology in production systems, inappropriate agricultural practices, low use of inputs and insufficient farmer training and advisory assistance. Agricultural production, especially food production, depends almost exclusively on natural factors (rains, soil, rudimentary tillage tools). The progress made in raising food production in certain countries is more the result of an extension of cropped area than an increase in productivity.

12. Poorly defined and poorly articulated legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks with little motivational impact contribute largely to raising the transaction costs of direct investments by nationals and foreigners.

II. PRIORITY ISSUES TO ENSURE FOOD SECURITY IN THE REGION IN ACCORDANCE WITH COMMITMENTS 1, 2 AND 5
OF THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT

13. Delivery on the commitments made by governments and the international community to combat food insecurity requires better understanding of the roles of the various actors and, especially, the removal of the main constraints to food production and establishment of innovatory and enabling institutional, social and economic environments that will provided for the best possible conditions for the elimination of poverty and the continuation of lasting peace: very important if there is to be food security for all.

14. The most important measures likely to help overcome the serious problems of food security in the region will aim to:

III. REGIONAL AND SUBREGIONAL COOPERATION FOR FOLLOW-UP TO THE WORLD FOOD SUMMIT PLAN OF ACTION (COMMITMENTS 1, 2, 5)

15. Upon the initiative of FAO and with its cooperation, all the countries of the region drew up a Strategy for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010 as part of the preparatory work for the World Food Summit. In many countries, these frames of reference are being turned into strategies and plans of action, as in the case of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad and Cape Verde. Rural development blueprints are being drafted or put into effect in Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the UNDP-financed national programme of agricultural and rural rehabilitation, Burundi, Congo, Brazzaville and Mali.

16. As regards regional cooperation, a number of initiatives are being pursued through subregional organizations:

17. In collaboration with the regional and subregional institutions, FAO has prepared Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS) for the African region. These highlight the commonalties of member countries with respect to agriculture and food security, the main differences in resource endowment and policies among the member countries of the regional economic groups, and the policy options and strategies for cooperation and the common investments required in agriculture for the period 1998-2010 (see the Report on the Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security in Annex).

18. The RSADFS is complemented by the Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS) which define the key elements. The Regional Stragegy for Agricultural Development and Food Security and the Regional Programmes for Food Security have been prepared for a number of African regional and subregional economic institutions, including those listed in the Annex.

19. Current regional programmes contributing to enhanced food security include:

20. FAO has also provided its support to organize of activities of interest to the IGOs and countries of the region:

21. Through its political efforts, especially those aimed at resolving crises, the OAU is helping to establish peace which will eventually be conducive to the development of programmes against poverty and food insecurity. In the short term, it provides its support in taking charge of and dealing with the refugee victims of serious political and social conflicts, and helping with their return and resettlement after the conflicts are over. FAO is working together with the OAU, with funds from its Technical Cooperation Programme and from other partners, in providing assistance in the form of distribution of seeds, farm implements, production materials and advice, and in helping draw up agricultural rehabilitation programmes in countries that have experienced or are still experiencing serious political crises, such as Guinea Bissau, Mali, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Angola, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

22. In addition to its proactive role in seeking peaceful solutions to the political and social crises of countries in the subregion, the SADC, with technical support from FAO, has put in place a regional information and early warning system for food security. This effective system facilitates the regulation and trade of agricultural and food commodities on the markets of the subregion - a contribution towards resolving the problem of poverty and hunger.

23. As part of the follow-up to the World Food Summit, FAO has prepared a Draft Strategy for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010 for most developing countries. The eight WAEMU countries have approved the drafts which they have integrated into their national strategies. Following the interest expressed by the WAEMU for this type of approach, FAO and the WAEMU have jointly prepared a Regional Strategy for Agricultural Development and Food Security. The WAEMU countries have also approved the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) which has already started in six countries and is being introduced in the two others.

In collaboration with FAO, the WAEMU has also developed a consultative framework in which to integrate the activities of a Special Regional Programme for Food Security (SRPFS). This programme will aim to define the substance of a regional integration approach, vitalize national programmes and reinforce institutional links between national SPFSs and the SRPFS. The latter was approved by the WAEMU Council of Ministers in August 1999.

The WAEMU has also introduced a code for the harmonization of policies to promote investment, trade and the circulation of people and goods, which will boost economic activities and agricultural economic activities beneficial to food security.

Together with FAO, it has also initiated a project to study the impact of macroeconomic reform on food security and agricultural production: the devaluation of the CFA franc. It is currently seeking funding for this study. Finally, the WAEMU is engaged in a process of reflection that should culminate in the drafting of a common agricultural policy.

24. The CILSS is a structure of the Sahel countries charged with directing, coordinating and monitoring their common policy to mitigate the effects of drought. FAO has always worked closely with this body. Besides these functions, it also considers strategic and prospective policy and is responsible for coordinating two major programmes:

The major policy programme for food security, which helps States formulate appropriate food security policies and strategies by: (i) raising know-how in developing production/processing; and (ii) implementing enabling mechanisms for the development of a regional food commodity market. This programme has a number of ongoing regional projects:

The major policy programme for natural resource management/control of desertification, which aims to help implement natural resource management and desertification control strategies and policies at national and regional level for coherent and sustainable development. This programme is supported by numerous projects, including one to foster local development in the Sahel.

Specialized technical institutes are conducting research programmes and activities in the fields of natural resource management, food security, population, information and training, which are helping to better the food security of populations of the CILSS member countries.

25. A number of programmes supported by major partners (World Bank, African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, European Union) have been formulated by ECOWAS in the area of food security, but their implementation has been hampered by assorted difficulties. These programmes focus primarily on adjustment of the agricultural sector, natural resource management, promotion of private irrigation, and support for the development and marketing of agricultural commodities. The Community has recently limited its scope of activity to food security and to the coordination and dissemination of information likely to improve food security in the West Africa subregion.

ECOWAS has also intervened to resolve socio-political conflicts, notably the crises of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau and the tensions between Guinea and Liberia/Sierra Leone. The return to peace in these countries will lead to enhanced resource allocation which could benefit agricultural production.

26. Finally, IGAD and CAMEU have not yet engaged in a comprehensive review that could lead to the formulation of a common subregional food security policy or programme. However, with assistance from FAO, IGAD has developed an early warning system for food security. The Special Programme for Food Security is being implemented and/or is under preparation in the countries covered by these two subregional organizations.

IV. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

27. There are clearly no miracle solutions to the problem of hunger. National and regional policies and strategies need to pool their synergies and aim to combat both the causes and the consequences of food insecurity. It is now universally recognized that the fundamental causes of hunger derive from poverty and marginalization. Physical destruction and massive population displacement in times of conflict are only aggravating factors.

28. In Africa, and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, the fight against hunger presupposes the establishment of sustainable peace and political stability based on the reinforcement of democratic institutions and the development of participatory economic policies aimed at combating poverty, controlling population growth and improving the productive capacity of natural resources.


ANNEX

REPORT ON STRATEGIES FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA REGION

Introduction

1. The purpose of this report is to inform the Regional Conference on actions taken by FAO in relation to national and regional strategies in the Africa Region as a follow up to the World Food Summit (WFS).

Draft Strategies for National Agricultural Development: Horizon 2010

2. The "Draft Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010" were prepared at FAO's initiative for 150 developing member countries and countries with economies in transition, as an initial step in the preparation for the follow-up to the World Food Summit. They were drafted with a view to (i) help member governments implement at the national level commitments that have been made at the global level; (ii) create a close partnership with all collaborating United Nations (UN) system and other international development agencies in supporting member government agricultural strategy development and implementation; and (iii) help put investment in agriculture high on the national and international agendas. They are based on official government documents, including national position papers for the World Food Summit, as well as relevant information and data from FAO and other official sources. Senior officials of the governments concerned have reviewed the draft of these papers and their comments have been incorporated.

3. Updating and where necessary amending the national strategies is important for ensuring that the policies and programmes for sustainable food security at national and household level remain consistent with the changing socio-economic and food security situation in each member country. Therefore, starting in late 1999, workshops will be held in all the countries for which the draft strategy has been prepared, with the aim to lead to stock taking of progress in implementation and to updating with latest information and development. It is expected that these National Workshops, organized by respective Governments, will be attended by all relevant Government officials, Parliamentary Commissions, actors of civil society, private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners.

Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security

4. Though most of the critical issues related to poverty and food insecurity have national characteristics, to reinforce national policies and programmes and take advantage of synergies and complementarities at regional and sub-regional levels, FAO has undertaken to expand its co-operation with Regional and Sub-regional Economic Groupings (REGs) of developing countries and countries in transition. FAO stands ready to assist the REGs in the formulation of policies and programmes designed to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, better access to food, food safety, and the enhancement of trade in food and agricultural products at national, sub-regional and regional levels.

5. To pursue this commitment, FAO, in collaboration with the relevant regional and sub-regional institutions in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Latin America and the Caribbean, is elaborating for each relevant REG a Regional Strategy for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS).

6. Each RSADFS draws extensively, but not exclusively, on the findings, conclusions and key policy recommendations of the Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010. The RSADFS highlight the commonalties of member countries with respect to agriculture and food security, identify major differences in resource endowment and policy parameters, recommend policy options and strategic thrusts for co-operative effort among members of the concerned economic grouping and propose tentative estimates of investment requirements in agriculture covering the period 1998-2010.

7. The regional strategies are complemented by Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS), designed to implement the key elements embodied in the RSADFS. World-wide, thirty-four REGs have been invited initially to collaborate in the preparation of the respective RSADFS and RPFS, with draft strategies and project documents prepared accordingly, and joint elaboration of the strategies and programmes is under way.

8. RSADFS and RPFS have been prepared for the following Regional/Sub-regional economic groupings which are of relevance for the member countries of the Africa region:

9. Other regional or sub-regional economic groupings, whose membership entirely overlaps that of the previously mentioned ones, have been informed of this initiative on the basis of short documents based on the main findings and recommendations of the Regional Strategies. This is the case in Africa of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGL) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU)

Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS)

10. The emphasis of RPFS is to address, in the context of the respective National and Regional strategies, those issues which are regional in character and can be better addressed at regional level. The main objective of the Regional Programmes is to contribute and improve, on a sustainable basis, access by all the people of the region at all times to adequate food required for a healthy and active life through increases in productivity, production and trade of food crops.

11. With respect to increase in productivity and production the focus is on support to and expansion of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), including the microeconomic phase as well as assistance to policy review and formulation, preparation of investment programmes in sub-sectors of agriculture, and identification and formulation of viable projects for domestic and external financing.

12. With respect to trade, the focus is on harmonised policies and measures for trade facilitation by reducing sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, technical obstacles, promoting the reduction and harmonisation of tariffs and adopting international Codex Alimentarius norms and standards. Such trade facilitation measures could induce local and national specialisation through enhanced competition, and allow for a better expression of the comparative advantage positions of the member countries of the REGs needed for enhanced food security and overall economic development.

13. As part of the one-day National Workshops to take place before the end of 1999 --referred to in paragraph 3 above--, Executive Summaries of the relevant RSADFS will be presented at the National Workshops, so as to inform participants of FAO's on-going endeavours to support regional economic groupings.