Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, has met with the principals of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and agreed to work closely with them in a number of areas, including statistics as they seek to address food insecurities on the African continent.
The four leaders agreed to strengthen their relationship so they can effectively deal with food security issues on the continent, with more focus and emphasis being put on areas such as statistics, policy development and land with a view to improving agricultural productivity.
The meeting is an acknowledgment that the three United Nations Rome-based agencies offer a vast range of knowledge, financial and technical expertise on issues related to food security, agriculture and nutrition. The ECA on the other hand, also has a comparative advantage of a broad knowledge base in discharging its mandate of promoting the economic and social development of its member States, fostering intra-reginal integration and international cooperation for Africa's development.
Songwe, gave the assurance that the ECA was ready to deepen its collaboration with the three organisations, adding the fact that the leaders of the Rome-based UN agencies were in Ethiopia at the same time was a strong indication of how important the issue of food security on the continent was to them.
"Under one roof, we have combined knowledge on climate change, food security, and conflict. These issues are relevant for the challenges we face such as migration must be tackled in a comprehensive way," she said. "We have been collaborating already with the three agencies and there's a lot that can be done if we pull our resources together", she added.
Songwe also said the ECA was ready to contribute to the partnership on the policy side and training in particular as the organisations work together in their quest to achieve zero hunger on the continent. She also emphasised the need for data and statistics to help guide agriculture and land policy, adding this was crucial for the gender agenda and to crowd in private investment.
"This is a great example of how we can work together and move forward as one with one goal as we talk about peace, security, development and the sustainable development goals," she added.
On his part, WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, said achieving food security was of utmost importance to Africa. "Africa has got a lot of problems, but there are also a lot of successes," he said, citing Ethiopia as a country with both great successes and great challenges. He said it was sad that over 10 million people on the continent face hunger on a daily basis in Africa.
"If we are going to see zero hunger by 2030, which will not happen - it's an absolute impossibility with wars and man-made conflicts - because 80 per cent of our funding now is in war zones and that distracts funding from sustainable development."