Director-General tours drought-stricken East Africa
After a five-day tour of East Africa, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf underscored recent warnings that 20 million people are facing serious food shortages in the region. Three consecutive years of poor rains, along with war and civil conflicts, have created a serious humanitarian crisis throughout the Horn of Africa.
Acting in his capacity as chairman of Inter-Agency Task Force on the UN Response to Long-Term Food Security, Agricultural Development and Related Aspects in the Horn of Africa, Mr Diouf visited Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. The inter-agency task force was established in April to find lasting solutions to the problem of food insecurity in the Horn of Africa.
"The impact of the drought in the Horn of Africa is immense, given that effective water management systems are available for only 1 percent of the arable land, as opposed to 7 percent for the rest of Africa and 38 percent in Asia," said Mr Diouf. He stressed that "priority will be placed on water management, especially small, locally-built water collection systems".
Mr Diouf also underlined the importance of helping the Horn of Africa acquire the needed infrastructure to cope with food crises. He indicated that during his trip, his discussions with government officials and experts dealt with the subject of establishing transportation infrastructures that could improve the delivery of agricultural supplies and food, especially between areas of food surplus and those facing food shortages.
"We must identify the problems, mobilize the resources and use the appropriate mechanisms of the UN, the Organization of African Unity and the governments concerned to resolve the political problems that continue to affect the region," said Mr Diouf.
He added that work is continuing on the preparation of a report that will be presented to the UN Secretary-General in September. The report will include a strategy and specific projects for long-term development in the Horn of Africa.
September 6 2000