Food security in Africa : a prerequisite for peace!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Food security is more than a critical issue: 795 millions people* around the world are suffering from starvation. Sadly, Africa has the highest proportion of people (one in four*) suffering from chronic hunger,a problem that is both persistent and widespread. This is the consequence of the rapid growth of the population associated with economic development and urbanization. Today, we need action and to set up an innovative and pragmatic strategy to deal with all these dramatic challenges: this is the reason why the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which came into effect in 2016, include a target to end poverty everywhere, and one to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Today, we can observe that political commitment to nutrition is increasing (such as Scaling Up Nutrition Movement for instance), which is an excellent thing and allow us to be optimistic without being called dreamers. However, I insist on the fact that agriculture and food security interventions still need to be specifically designed to address hunger and malnutrition problems. Indeed, the simple fact of improving agricultural production and productivity does not necessarily lead to improved nutritional outcomes!

This is the reason why reducing poverty and hunger through agriculture-led growth is central to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Within CAADP, a programme was created to cope with these challenges: the Food and Nutrition Security Programme that undertakes studies, builds capacity for policy makers and programme experts across sectors and supports implementation. The goal is to reduce hunger and malnutrition of the vulnerable populations. Programme activities are built around maternal and child nutrition, food fortification and bio-fortification, dietary diversity and home grown school feeding. This aims at targeting as many areas as possible so as to ensure a strong and large impact : CAADP provides a unique framework and gateway for mainstreaming nutrition in national, regional and continental food systems. 

I apologize if you feel my conclusion stands to reason but I believe it deserves to be said again and again: food security is today an absolute necessity for our continent, but not only because it is obvious! Indeed, food security is inextricably linked with peace: we cannot achieve one without the other. By integrating food security and peace-building initiatives, we can work together to ensure that hunger is neither a cause nor a result of conflict. This is why NEPAD will continue to engage with multi-sectoral teams at country level to enhance understanding of nutrition, intensify dialogue and mutual understanding of each sector’s role in improving nutrition, and agree on practical steps for nutrition actions on the ground: because a stable and peaceful environment is the foundation of lasting food security and sustainable livelihoods. 

*(Source: l’Etat d’insécurité alimentaire dans le monde – 2015)

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