FAO warns of funding gap for Sahel and Horn of Africa emergency plans

Director-General addresses Regional Conference for Africa

26 April 2012, Brazzaville - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today that funding gaps to assist herders, agro-pastoralists and farmers in the ongoing rainy season in the Sahel and Horn of Africa total over 110 million dollars.

"In the Horn of Africa, we are losing the opportunity to build on our recent gains and assure resilient rural communities. In the Sahel, this means not putting in place measures that could prevent the food security situation from worsening," warned Graziano da Silva at FAO's 27th Regional Conference for Africa.

As of today, funding gaps for the entire year reach a total of 239 million dollars for the two regions.

Resources will be used to cover a variety of short and long-term activities, including cash and voucher for work programmes; distribution of seeds, fertilizer and tools and training to farmers; livestock vaccination and production of fodder.

FAO Director-General recognized efforts being made by donor countries to maintain their international aid and added that "it is in times of crises that the vulnerable populations need us the most."

Speaking to ministers and other senior authorities of the African continent, Graziano da Silva explained FAO's new approach to fighting hunger in Africa. Key aspects include working together with partners under nationally and regionally-led actions to link emergencies to development, build up resilience of rural families and communities, scale up successful initiatives, encourage public and private investments in agriculture and food security, manage risks and strengthen local institutions.

Supporting smallholder production

The importance of intra-African trade and supporting Africa's smallholder farmers, herders and fishers for food security was also stressed by the Director-General.  

"The continent spends over 50 billion dollars annually on food imports. At the same time, over 50 percent of its labour force is made up of smallholder farmers, herders, foresters and fishers. Let's find ways to put them together so that Africa can feed Africa," he said.

FAO's Assistant Director-General for Africa, Maria Helena Semedo, added that Africa's agriculture sector is currently undergoing dynamic change and needs a new paradigm and an invigorated vision, which is our common responsibility to turn into action. 

"We must help African farmers to not only produce more food but to produce it more efficiently in order to double agricultural production to meet the increasing demand for food on the continent," said Semedo.

Photo: ©FAO/Souleymane Traoré
A combination of drought, high food prices, displacement and chronic poverty is affecting millions in Africa's Sahel Region.