21 November 2013, Accra – Seven years after the launch of the Economic Community Of West African States Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), food insecurity and hunger are still prevalent in West Africa. Acute food crises occurred in 2005, 2010 and 2012 in the region, hitting especially the Sahel. In 2012, 18.7 million people were affected by food insecurity.
Sharing knowledge and expertise on food security and nutrition is a key factor in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogues contribute significantly to the improvement of techniques and approaches for food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable populations.
Focus on West Africa Food Security and Nutrition Forum
Experts and practitioners in Food Security and Nutrition met on 20-21 November 2013, in the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Accra, Ghana, to discuss pressing Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) issues affecting the the Economic Community Of West African States.
Approximately 16 participants from West Africa attended a workshop dedicated to the FAO’s Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition in West Africa (FSN Forum), a worldwide network of experts and practitioners that take part in facilitated online discussions and knowledge sharing on food security and nutrition.
West African representatives from civil society, academy and research and government will identify key issues in order to support the further development of the West Africa FSN Forum and ensure its full ownership by regional actors.
“What is new is the focus on West Africa. The FSN Forum in West Africa will concentrate mostly on specific issues and concerns of the region”, said FAO Representative to Ghana and Sub-regional Office for West Africa, Mr Lamourdia Thiombiano, during the opening session. “It is particularly interesting that we are not reinventing the wheel here, but building on an initiative that has already proven to be successful at the global level and can be effective for the West African community, too”.
Thiombiano also observed that inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogues contribute significantly to the improvement of techniques and approaches for food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable populations. “These exchanges help in raising awareness and strengthen stakeholders’ support of policy processes”.
Building on existing initiatives
The Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition has been instrumental in building networks of stakeholders who can play a role in pushing forward the Right to Food agenda and in supporting the inclusion of diverse stakeholder groups into global food security and nutrition processes. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the High Level Panel of Experts of the CFS and the Post 2015 Development Agenda process feature among the FSN Forum collaborations.
"The FSN forum is ready to support the strategic objectives of FAO in the Region to reduce hunger and malnutrition", said Mauricio Rosales, Coordinator of the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition, "the main challenge for the FSN is to achieve a greater impact at grassroots level".
The inputs obtained from this workshop will help establish a better forum for the West Africa region.
The FSN Forum nurtures a community of 7 000 members with one third of them from Africa. The new West Africa FSN Forum will aim at supporting policy formulation and processes by providing a channel for local, national and sub-regional West African stakeholders to actively contribute to existing initiatives, such as the new FAO/Germany supported "Zero Hunger” project of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), that seeks to unite the efforts of all regional stakeholders, including governments, parliaments, civil society and organizations of producers around eradicating hunger in West Africa.