FAO Regional Office for Africa

Call for renewed efforts in building resilience in Africa’s drylands

FAO and partners urge more collaborations in building resilient agriculture and food systems in Africa

household resilience and the agricultural sector can also help mitigate the risk of conflict. ( Photo: © FAO )

24 June 2019, Nairobi - Africa’s steady growth in the area of food and nutrition security is gradually eroding due to the recurrent shocks and threats emanating from the impact of climate change.

The prevalence of undernourishment continues to rise and now affects over 20 percent of the population on the continent, in addition, the worsening food security situation is driven by the increased vulnerability of African populations in the face of climate change and the recent uptick in insecurity in large parts of the continent.

Small-holder farmers, pastoralists and fishermen in Africa face the challenges of anticipating and preventing the impacts of severe droughts (and other climate change extreme events) with other hazards/crises in a way that contributes to participatory sustainable development. This should ultimately lead to improving and safeguarding livelihoods for the most vulnerable agriculture dependent people, particularly in fragile arid and semi-arid ecosystems.

In view of such disturbing condition, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other stakeholders have urged leaders and other development partners in Africa to reinforce shared understanding and invest more on building resilience to improve sustainable food and nutrition security.

This call was made during a workshop organized by FAO in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, (IGAD), the Southern African Development Community, (SADC), Comité Inter-Etate pour la Lutte contre la Sécheresse au Sahel, (CILSS), SADC, the WFP, UNICEF and other stakeholders to take stock and strengthen regional capacities, partnerships, and exchanges for building resilience in Africa’s drylands.

Addressing participants during the workshop, the Strategic Programme Leader and Director of Emergencies and Resilience at FAO, Dominique Burgeon, explained how global indicators on hunger reveals a worrying situation where 65 million people still live with acute food insecurity in Africa. Further to that, Africa may not attain the Sustainable Development Goals 2, (SDG2), which aims to eradicate hunger by the year 2030 if forces are not joined to tackle the challenges on the continent.

“There is no way we can attain zero hunger if we are not able to address chronic food insecurity, and therefore building resilience of farmers is crucial for those especially in the drylands who are regularly hit by different kinds of shock such as conflicts, increasing impact of extreme weather events, as well as, economic shocks,” he added.

Reinforcing shared partnership and experience

Representing the African Union Commission, Ayalneh Bogale explained that the need to build resilience of livelihoods and along the productive systems of pastoralists and farmers in the drylands of Africa remains a priority focus of the commission and further advised member States of the African Union to formulate policies on resilience along the value chains of the agricultural sector to enhance food and nutrition security.

“There is enough evidence to say that countries that have mainstreamed resilience policies into their national development plans are better positioned to quickly recover from climate shocks and human disasters.” He added.

The workshop created the opportunity to foster mutual understanding of ongoing programmes, agree on priority areas relating to resilience building, to synergize efforts on existing regional collaborations in the agricultural sector, and also to build institutional capacities of Regional Economic Communities, (RECs) of the African Union Commission, (AUC), within the specific objective of scaling up proven cost-effective resilience methods and good practices to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition.

FAO and building resilience in Africa’s drylands

The FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF) Regional Initiative” Building Resilience in Africa’s Drylands” aims to strengthen the resilience of African livelihoods to threats and crises. Within the framework of this initiative ,FAO has been working with government institutions and various stakeholders  on building resilience in the drylands of Africa, several collaborations and exchanges have been supported and facilitated between sub-regional and regional level governmental institutions to work on building resilience to shocks and stresses at community levels in the drylands.

A Senior Strategic Advisor on Resilience at FAO, Luca Rosso, indicated that climate change and environmental degradation contribute to exacerbating local conflicts which are rooted in natural resource competition and scarcity, and other structural factors are affecting food security in many African contexts, therefore investing  on household resilience and the agricultural sector can also help mitigate the risk of conflict, and individual decisions to resort to violence.

“In the area of risk-informed social protection schemes, FAO has been supporting regional processes and national governments in the region to maximize the impacts of social protection interventions by strengthening linkages with resilience, food security, nutrition, and economic growth,” he explained.

Key results

Among other things, the workshop created a common understanding for the mandate, nature of risk management work, capacity, and comparative advantages among relevant regional bodies and actors engaged in resilience for delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achievement of the Malabo declaration.

It further analyzed the lessons learned and success stories on regional collaboration and exchanges on resilience building. This is expected to provide an opportunity to have a dialogue on a more detailed understanding of FAO’s work in resilience building in various subregions of Africa.

Way forward and building on outcomes 

Jean Senahoun, Delivery Manager on Resilience of FAO and the convener of the workshop, said “The workshop has fostered and strengthened the relationships between FAO and its key partners, and as well as provided the platform for AUC, RECs and FAO to identify focus areas for collaboration, and reach agreements with respect to key priority areas for resilience building of communities in the drylands and the set-up of a task-force for the follow-up actions after the workshop.