On 14 June 2013, more than 40 experts from 8 West African countries concluded a two day’s consultation with the adoption of recommendations and commitments related to concrete activities to be conducted in their respective area of work so as to contribute to the advancement of the right to food in the region. The expert consultation, convened by the UN Special Rapporteur for the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, was co-organized by FAO and the Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The meeting met all the expectations related to its objectives: it provided a forum where parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of CSOs, human rights institutions and intergovernmental organizations, exchanged very rich and encouraging experiences on the practical aspects of the implementation of the right to food at national level. The constructive and trustful dynamic of this dialogue showed that it is possible to include all relevant sectors around one common agenda - the right to food as a reality for all - and to replicate this dynamic at the national level.
A full report by the UN Special Rapporteur, based on the insights accrued over his mandate, including regional right to food consultations in Latin America and the Caribbean (2011), Eastern and Southern Africa (2012) and West Africa (2013), is available here.
The consultation highlighted, among others, the central role the right to food has to play in efforts to eradicate hunger both as an overall objective and as an approach that promotes participation, transparency and empowerment. Including small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishermen and women in decision-making ensures that investments in agriculture and rural development indeed contribute to reducing poverty in rural areas. Social safety nets guided by human rights will also help to focus on the needs and rights of the most vulnerable groups, while increasing the resilience of households to climate related shocks. Strengthening coordination, accountability and monitoring mechanisms will ensure better policies, targeted interventions, and efficient delivery of measures and plans. Africa is a young continent: many participants stressed the importance of creating an environment where young people can develop, engage themselves, study and work. At the end of the consultation, participants made concrete commitments related to follow-up actions they will be taking. These commitments range from trainings and awareness building events within their own structure, to providing technical advice and approaching parliamentarians on specific issues.
Photos: ©Nicolas Meulders
The consultation also provided an opportunity to increase awareness on the right to food and practical ways to implement it. Media was present during the opening ceremony on 13 June 2013. On that occasion, Mr. Lamourdia Thiombiano, Deputy Regional Representative of FAO for Africa, highlighted the Organisation’s recent initiatives in the region and the role of the right to food in this context.
>> Read the speech in French here
Mr Faustin Diatta, Technical Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, underlined the commitment from the Senegalese authorities in the fight against hunger and the realization of the right to food.
>> Read the speech in French here
Moreover, during a dialogue with the media on 14 June 2013, some participants shared their experiences and impressions with the media.
All elements - the engagement by national stakeholders, the priorities of regional organizations, global initiatives to end hunger and the choice of the right to food as the theme for NEPAD’s Africa food security day in 2013 - indicate that this is the right momentum, in Africa, to strengthen work on the right to food as an overall objective, as an approach to development, and as a new way of doing things, where hungry people are not recipients of charity, but empowered right holders and actors of their development path.