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Horn of Africa: Funding for agricultural recovery lagging, FAO warns

Predictable, sustained support for rural economies and livelihoods needed to avoid future crises

Photo: ©FAO/Goulio Napolitano
Pastoralists water their goats and livestock at a trough at El Bes Oasis in the Chalbi Desert, Kenya, 2009.

25 August 2011, Addis Ababa/Rome - As world governments met today in Ethiopia for an international pledging conference aimed at winning more aid for the Horn of Africa, FAO has warned that efforts to keep farmers and pastoralists on their feet, prevent the crisis from worsening and speed progress toward recovery are not being adequately funded.

Two emergency meetings organized by FAO in Rome on 25 July and 18 August helped set the stage for today’s African Union pledging conference, raising international awareness of the importance of not only providing food assistance but also supporting food producers and getting food production in the Horn back up and running as soon as possible.

But support for activities outlined in FAO’s “Road map for Recovery” -- a $161 million package designed to restore livelihoods and build the resilience of populations in the face of climate and other shocks -- has so far been insufficient, the UN agency said, with only $57.3 million paid up or in the pipeline to date.

High cereal prices continue in the Horn, as cereal supply is declining and will not be replenished until the year's end, assuming a favourable rainfall. Livestock conditions continue to deteriorate, and the increasing burden of accumulated debts continues to erode both urban and rural households' ability to purchase food.

The next planting season in the Horn of Africa is set to begin just weeks away, but many farmers have sold seed stock or tools to stay alive.

Similarly, November is normally a time when pastoralists market their livestock, earning money they can use to feed their families for months after. Without adequate fodder, shelter, water and vaccines, they are losing animals at alarming rates.

FAO is already delivering assistance to communities in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia and proposes to scale up these activities by rehabilitating and constructing water points; providing vital agricultural inputs, such as drought-tolerant seeds, tools, animal feed, fodder and water for livestock; using cash for work to provide immediate relief and mitigate the rising prices of staple foods; and by improving plant and animal pest and disease surveillance and control.

Lasting solutions require sustained support

A paper developed for the Addis Abba meeting by the African Union in collaboration with the three Rome-based UN food agencies (FAO - the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, IFAD - the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and WFP, the World Food Programme) highlights not only the need for a twin-track approach of simultaneously tackling immediate needs as well as the root causes of the problem, but also the necessity of predictable and sustained aid flows to move the Horn of Africa towards stability and improved food security.

“We have the know-how, including frameworks, institutions, technology and human capacities to eradicate famine from the Horn of Africa, but we lack predictable resource flows to achieve that outcome," the document said.

Africa for Africa

FAO lauded the African Union for convening the conference and encouraged AU members and other African nations to boost investment in agriculture and play a leadership role in responding to the crisis, and pledged the support of the FAO-WFP led Food Security Cluster in helping coordinate the response.

Interventions to strengthen the resilience of affected-populations should build on the ongoing Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a country-led process. The AU Policy Framework for Pastoralism in Africa should guide investments for arid and semi-arid lands under the CAADP plans of individual countries.