Food Coalition

Strengthening rural institutions and organizations in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push between 26-39 million people into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is significantly affecting smallholder family farmers and other small-scale producers. Over 85 percent of all workers across the continent are employed in the informal sector and are vulnerable to poverty and hunger. They lack social protection coverage and support mechanisms should they lose their livelihoods. Among rural actors in SSA, youth are among those most at risk, including 70 percent considered working poor, who require the skills and competencies to engage in on- and off-farm businesses, better access resources (notably finances) and rural employment opportunities. Family farms are the mainstay of food and agriculture production in Africa, employing two-thirds of the African population, working 62 percent of the land. Family farmers support the whole spectrum of food producers in Africa: livestock, crop production- staple food to cash crop producers; for both subsistence and local markets. These family farmers also contribute significantly to ecosystem preservation and environmental protection. Producer organizations play a critical role in food production in SSA, in agrifood system and overall rural development, supporting many smallholder farmers, fisher folk, forest users and livestock keepers, including youth and women.

These diverse categories of rural actors are central to agri-food system operations in SSA, significantly contributing to food security and nutrition, and sustainable healthy diets. It is crucial that policies, strategies, investments and actions are put in place to protect and support the recovery of their productive capacity during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
They are currently experiencing a severe loss of income and productive capacity as a result of: (1) temporary restrictions on movement, which are hindering market access, as well as the availability of seasonal and migrant labour supply; (2) changes in consumer behaviour and lower demand due to the closure of schools, farmers’ markets, restaurants and other public places; (3) disruptions to production (due to shortages of migrant seasonal workers, for example); (4) value-chain disruptions, creating financial challenges and constraining access to necessary inputs, services and operational materials; and (5) limited access to social protection and insurance.
Lessons learned from previous crises show that integrated multi-sectoral policies and a comprehensive set of actions are needed to ensure smallholder family famers have have access to productive resources, services, finance and markets. In tandem, rural institutions and family farmer/producer organizations need to be supported to promote improved and sustainable productivity, market likages, economic resilience and livelihoods.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 6. Clean Water and Sanitation, 10. Reduced Inequality, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 13. Climate Action, 15. Life on Land, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Africa
Country: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Budget: USD 45 million

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