Rome — FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today that improving food security in the Sahel will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
He was addressing a meeting on the Sahel situation called by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on the Sahel who is former Italian Prime Minister and EU Commission President Romano Prodi.
"Investing in food security in the Sahel is also an investment in a peaceful and more stable future," Graziano da Silva said. "There is a clear linkage between hunger and conflict; food security and peace in Africa. In the Sahel, we are seeing how food insecurity, hunger, and the dispute over natural resources causes conflicts. Hunger can both trigger conflicts and be a result of conflict. So we cannot treat food security as being separated from security and development as a whole."
The Director-General noted that over one billion euro has been mobilized for the Sahel by the international community this year, "and we are glad to see that famine has been averted."
But more needed to be done, he continued, adding: "It is essential to step up support and also combine short-term humanitarian responses with longer-term development actions. We need to make livelihoods more resilient. And we need to ensure that our interventions in different areas - food security and nutrition, agriculture, health, education and security - are as integrated as possible. FAO is committed to working more closely and better with you under African leadership, to promote sustainable development in the Sahel."
Graziano da Silva said he believes there is the political will to end hunger in the Sahel. "I recently returned from a trip to Niger. What I saw was encouraging. It convinced me that there is hope; that there is political will to reverse the negative trends leading to food insecurity in the region, he declared.
The Director-General welcomed Mr Prodi and his team, who met today with Special Envoys, mediators and Senior UN Officials dealing directly with the crisis in the Sahel in order to review the situation in the region and discuss how efforts in support of peace and security can be enhanced.
FAO is providing office space for the Secretary-General's Special Envoy and his team in Rome.