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FAO’s leader calls for collaboration to “break the cycle” in the Sahel

Climate change makes viable livelihoods and food security especially urgent, Qu Dongyu tells heads of state

22 September 2019, New York - Tackling the challenges in the Sahel will require a "common, coordinated and coherent response" to provide people living in the desert region with viable livelihoods and establish resilient agrifood systems, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said today.

He noted how since 2005, the Sahel region has been hit by repeated crises, each leaving the most vulnerable more exposed. As a result, almost 4 million people were at risk of acute food insecurity in the Sahel this year, while youth unemployment remains persistently high in the region, too.
The climate crisis also increases local conflicts between pastoralists and farmers over land and water.

"It is clear that the challenges of the Sahel need a coordinated and coherent response," Qu said, speaking at a G5 Heads of State Climate Event ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

He stressed that FAO is committed to the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and is contributing to many efforts in the region. FAO is also supporting the G5 Sahel, leading the pastoralism efforts under the resilience pillar of its investment plan.

Qu underscored how in 2018, FAO reached 1.7 million food insecure people across the region by supporting pastoralism, small-scale crop and vegetable production and providing cash-based transfers.

"I would like to add that the Rome-based agencies FAO, IFAD and WFP are combining their strengths to implement a Plan of Action for the Sahel, together with national authorities and regional bodies like the G5.

The Director-General pointed to Niger as a case study for the Rome-based U.N. agencies' approach, noting the close support offered for the Government's 3N initiative - ‘"Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens" - to achieve zero hunger and eradicate poverty.

"These joint efforts are providing alternative job opportunities, restoring livelihoods and building resilience for some of the region's most vulnerable communities," Qu said.

He also cited the example of FAO and the European Union working together to strengthen the resilience of transboundary agropastoral communities to food crises in the Sahel.

"We have a real opportunity to address the effects of climate change and build more resilient agri-food systems across the Sahel if we commit to working in partnership and aligning our efforts. FAO will continue to support the governments and people of the Sahel in these actions," the Director-General concluded.

Photo: ©FAO/Roberto Schmidt
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.

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