Eliminating food insecurity and malnutrition are persistent challenges in the Near East and North Africa. The structural dependence of its countries on food imports, make the region highly vulnerable to shocks, increasing the inability of entire communities to feed themselves.
Recent conflicts and civil instability in many countries of the region have also compounded the situation. As a result, hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread and require comprehensive and urgent intervention.
FAO is helping governments face these challenges by improving the capacity of countries to collect, produce and analyse data for policy formulation. This is done by strengthening their commitment and accountability and by coordinating efforts for joint action.
FAO also provides direct support to improve the livelihoods of millions of small farmers and rural communities, especially in countries undergoing conflict where the Organization help farmers and their families recover from crises.
The mission of FAO in the Near East and North Africa is to achieve sustainable food security for all and to help vulnerable communities cope with and recover from shocks and crises.
To do this, FAO helps Member States work toward sustainable increases in agriculture production, minimize depletion and degradation of already scarce natural resources, boost rural development and reduce food loss and waste.
The Regional Office plays an active role in promoting South-South cooperation across Member Countries and in facilitating dialogue on regional issues and common transboundary challenges.
Through a wide range of sectoral expertise, the Regional Office ensures a multi-disciplinary approach to field interventions. Expertise offered ranges from food security to water and natural resources, from crop production and protection to fisheries, forestry, nutrition, food processing and agro-industries.
The Office also assists Member Countries in the formulation of National Plans of Action that include policy priorities guiding governments' action towards the achievement of food security and sustainable agriculture development.
The Regional Office serves as a secretariat for some intergovernmental regional bodies such as the FAO’s specialized Regional Commissions.
Core functions of the FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa include:
- Servicing Member Countries through the production of assessments and sectoral analysis
- Providing technical support and developing capacities of institutions dedicated to agriculture and food security sectors
- Building regional partnerships and alliances
- Providing up-to-date information, knowledge and data
- Assisting governments in the establishment of Information Systems that support evidence-based policy formulation.
The FAO Subregional Office for North Africa was established in 1996 to provide assistance to the 5 Maghreb countries: Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia.
Its mission is to promote the development of the agricultural sector and strengthening food-security in the sub region through general policy advice and assistance and strengthening of institutional capacities and human resources.
Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia are the countries that constitute the sub region of North Africa. In 1989, these countries have signed and ratified the treaty of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), committing therefore, to address the common challenges together of developing and creating an integrated homogeneous economic area. Agriculture constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of the economy of the sub regional countries. This sector contributes with over 15% to the overall added value, and provides work for over 35% of the active population. The different natural resources available in the five countries constitute a potential to capitalize in the regional cooperation context.
While sharing some social-cultural aspects with other countries of the Near East, these countries form a distinct entity geographically and, in a certain way, historically as well. These five countries are grouped in the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), constituted in 1989 with the main objectives of the adoption of common policies in all areas and free movement of persons, services, goods and capitals between the Member States. Perfect match between the member states of SNE and AMU, who signed a cooperation agreement with FAO in 2003, is a facilitating element for FAO actions in this sub region.
Through its variety of activities and sub regional projects, the Subregional Office for North Africa plays an important role in bringing together the institutions of the sub regional countries and consolidating the cooperation relationships, sharing experiences in the agricultural development sector and the natural resources management between the five Maghreb countries.
FAO-SNG seeks to support the 2030 Agenda in the region through the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind. This is achieved through strengthening the sustainability of agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and livestock sectors, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, improving nutrition, food safety and achieving food security for all in a sustainable manner. FAO-SNG applies four crosscutting accelerators, i.e., technology, innovation, data and complements (governance, human capital and institutions) in all its programmatic interventions to accelerate impact while minimizing trade-offs.
The GCC States (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) and Yemen extent over a land area of approximately 3.1 million km2, with Saudi Arabia covering approximately 70 percent of the total land surface. The subregion was home to approximately 88 million people in 2021, with projections to reach approximately 138 million people by 2050. With this growing urban population, food security is becoming a major concern and high on the development and sustainability agendas in the subregion.
The SNG subregion is a very arid and water is the scarcest factor of production. GCC States are among the wealthiest and the most food secure nations as per the Global Food Security Index (2021), although the majority of the food (over 75 percent) is imported. Agriculture (crop, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture) is a strategic sector for economic development, achieving food security, improving nutrition, sustaining livelihoods and generating income. Food security is a general concern across all the countries. Prior to COVID-19, GCC countries imported about 85 percent of their food. On the other hand, Yemen depends heavily on humanitarian assistance since the onset of the crisis in 2011.
In light of the growth of urban population correlated with increasing and diversified food demands, most GCC countries have developed national food security strategies, with the aim of becoming food secure, tapping into and increasing domestic production to reduce food imports.
Food security is constrained by water scarcity, limited arable land combined with erosion of inherent sandy soils, unsustainable agricultural practices, overexploitation of fish stocks and climate change. For example, the sustainability of fisheries is hampered by the rising demand for blue food, and there are concerns that several wild stocks may already be overfished. GCC countries are among the most water scarce and hardly hit by global warming, with temperature rising to more than 50 degrees Celsius in some countries. In line with the Paris Agreement, most GCC countries have made bold climate change commitments to achieve zero-net emission by 2050-2060. Despite the challenges facing agriculture and natural resources, the SNG countries attach high priority to the development and modernization of their food, agricultural, livestock and fisheries sectors.
The aim of SNG subregional office is to support GCC states and Yemen in pioneering initiatives in technological innovation applied to the management of agri-food systems, to the blue transformation of aquatic food systems, to the sustainable development of agriculture and natural resources for sustainable growth, in addition to supporting the sub-region in achieving food and water security.
FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa
11 Al-Eslah Al-Zerai Street, Dokki, P.O. BOX 2223, Cairo, Egypt.
Phone: (202) 3331 6000 to 3331 6007
Fax: (202) 3749 5981, (202) 3337 3419
E-mail: [email protected]