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African nations discuss creation of an African food security trust fund

FAO to help draft details of proposal

Photo: ©FAO/Frank Nyakairu
President Denis Sassou Nguesso (right) with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva

30 April 2012, Brazzaville – The creation of an African-funded trust fund to support food security in the continent was discussed at FAO’s Regional Conference for Africa, held last week in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

Complementing international resource mobilization, the Africa Trust Fund would raise resources in the continent to fight hunger and would also allow for the scaling up of successful activities to prevent and respond to food and agriculture crises in the region.

In support of the proposal, civil society organizations attending the Regional Conference made a symbolic donation to the trust fund.

FAO will engage in countries-led consultations in order to draft a detailed proposal for approval by participating member countries.

Solidarity

During the Regional Conference, the President of the Republic of the Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for African solidarity to help respond to recurring food security crises in the continent, with the Sahel and the Horn of Africa currently most affected.

Graziano da Silva said African oil-producing nations have a great opportunity to promote the continent’s social and economic development and lift it out of its continuing food insecurity situation.

“I would like to appeal to African nations, especially oil-producing countries to invest some of these resources in agriculture in a sustainable manner without damaging the environment,” the Director-General said.

“I am convinced ending hunger is possible, given true political commitment,” said Graziano da Silva, adding: “Each one of us has a contribution to make to achieve this goal: governments, the private sector, civil society, international and regional organizations and the media. I call upon all of you, all of us, to join forces to free the world from this curse.”

Political commitment

The President of the Republic of the Congo stressed the value of political commitment in ensuring food security and made a “vibrant appeal” for African governments to show solidarity with countries in the Horn of Africa and the African Sahel regions, where millions are currently in need of assistance.

Sassou Nguesso called for concrete efforts to achieve sustainable food security throughout the continent and to establish “a permanent climate of peace and consensus, without which all our dreams of development would remain mere fantasies and illusions”.

He continued, “That is why, the Republic of the Congo, my country, is issuing here in Brazzaville a vibrant appeal for a movement of solidarity on Africa’s part towards the countries of the Saharan and Sahel regions which are suffering the severe and relentless consequences of a crisis involving politics, security, food and the climate.”

He underlined that the situation in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel show “how much the degradation of food security in certain regions of our continent remains a challenge” and added that with will and determination Africa could overcome hunger.

Horn of Africa and Sahel

The Horn of Africa and Sahel regions have been the scenes of recurrent droughts which, although often predictable, have triggered some of the worst food crises in recent history, bringing death, hunger and suffering to millions of people.

In Brazzaville, Graziano da Silva warned 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 and called upon the donor community to maintain its support to a hunger-free Africa.

Funding gaps for the entire year reach a total of $239 million  for the two regions.

Regional Conference

Forty-five African countries attended the FAO Regional Conference.

The meeting concluded with African countries reaffirming their commitment to ending hunger in the continent and defining which areas FAO should focus its work on to support this goal. They include increasing productivity and market access for smallholders, reducing vulnerability to threats to food and nutrition security and improving management and governance for sustainable use of natural resources.

Participants thanked FAO for its support to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and stressed the importance of continuing to work in its framework and of stimulating public and private partnerships and investments to develop the continent’s agricultural sector.

The next Regional Conference for Africa will take place in 2014 in Tunisia.