The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: West Africa

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: West Africa
Nov 2009

More than 139 million people in West Africa live in extreme poverty, a population that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of widespread food insecurity, recurrent natural disasters, climate change, the global economic crisis and socio-political instabilities.

Regional food security and nutrition indicators illustrate that many West Africans increasingly face restrictions in their livelihood options, thus inhibiting them from overcoming these challenges. Furthermore, global and acute malnutrition rates have reached serious and critical threshold levels in the majority of West African countries in recent years.

In 2009, the overarching theme of the CAP was the soaring food price crisis and its consequences on vulnerable populations, which continue to have an impact throughout the region.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Rural populations in some parts of West Africa were able to benefit from favourable rainfall patterns during the last year. However, many areas of the Eastern Sahel received insufficient rainfall in 2009, which has specifically impacted growing conditions for crops and deteriorated pastoral areas of Burkina Faso, Mali and the Niger. Poor rains during the 2008 season had already led to a fodder deficit in the Niger, the continuation of which in 2009 has exacerbated the situation for agropastoralists. Nigeria, a key regional cereal supplier, was also affected by insufficient rainfall, the effects of which are a growing concern as the quantity of cereal produced in the country generally accounts for 50 to 60 percent of West African production.

As agricultural livelihoods in the Eastern Sahel were widely impacted by drought in 2009, the same year has been recorded as one of the most flood-affected years in recent decades for other parts of West Africa. As of September 2009, floods had affected 770 000 people and led to the loss of 193 lives in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

In addition to the various climatic disasters experienced within the last year, the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis have also considerably affected economies throughout the region. Agricultural export prices have dropped for key cash crops, while evidence indicates an ongoing decline in remittances throughout the region. Realigned exchange rates have impacted international and cross-border trade, causing further reductions in income-generating capacity and creating additional strains on livelihoods. Specifically, the depreciation of the Nigerian naira relative to the Communauté financière africaine franc led to simultaneous reductions in demand for Sahelian livestock throughout the year. In the Niger, pastoralists’ terms of trade are 26 percent below average. Assessments conducted in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea in 2009 indicated that food insecurity had increased particularly among farmers who grow cash crops, as well as those who rely on ‘lean season crops’ such as cashew and shea nuts.

FAO Response

In 2010, FAO and the WFP will lead the Food Security and Nutrition Cluster together, coordinating urgently needed assistance to prevent a further deterioration of livelihoods and food security, as well as building the capacity of people and governments to manage and overcome future shocks. At the regional level, FAO will aim to strengthen food security information analysis and coordination capacity, improve emergency preparedness and response capacity development and provide lifesaving assistance to control diseases in 15 West African countries.

In addition to sector coordination responsibilities and the regional level initiatives, FAO is appealing for funds to respond to specific needs identified in several countries. In Côte d’Ivoire, donor contributions will assist conflict-affected households through the establishment of income-generating activities, support to livelihoods and provision of inputs. Emergency support for rice farmers affected by the global food crisis will be provided in Liberia, while additional vulnerable farmers affected by high food prices will be assisted in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo. FAO is also appealing for funds to support populations affected by climatic disasters (flood and/or drought) in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal. Additionally, in Guinea Bissau, FAO aims to collaborate with partners in support of pandemic influenza preparedness and control under the Health Cluster.