Kigali — In partnership with the African Union, leaders of four multilateral agencies - The African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank -- called a high-level meeting with development partners on August 5-6 in Kigali, Rwanda at the first Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue (AFSLD). The event focuses on concrete ways to strengthen and accelerate their support to food security programs in Africa and help African agriculture adapt to climate change through increased partnerships and coordination.
Sub-Saharan Africa's farming sector has grown faster than anywhere else in the world with a 4.6 percent agriculture GDP growth rate from 2000 to 2018. But about 20 percent of Africa's population (256 million people) are facing severe food insecurity. The situation is getting worse because of the negative impacts of climate change and conflicts. Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have become more frequent and prolonged, leading to diminished productive capacity of the land and loss of natural capital. In addition to that, farmers face several significant climate risks, especially in rainfed agriculture and pastoral production systems. The net effect is that per-capita food production is declining given a rapidly growing population, making food less available and accessible to a significant portion of the population.
The number of undernourished people in most sub-regions has been on the rise again since 2014 and if this trend continues the hard-won gains of previous years will be lost.
Attended by more than 250 high-level decision makers including 28 Ministers from across the continent, Nobel laureates, leading technical specialists in Africa and high-level representatives from international organizations such as the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), United Nations' agencies, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), bilateral development partners, and eminent personalities, the AFSLD concluded with a joint Communique, urging development partners to strengthen their coordination efforts to better support countries to accelerate progress towards their collective food and nutrition security goals as envisioned in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).
Acknowledging the urgency of the situation, the AFSLD partners agree to scale-up their collaboration, including joint planning and programming, co-financing and parallel-financing, and joint analytical and advisory activities in addressing African food security issues in the context of climate change. They also agree to commit financial and technical support that is commensurate to the size of the food security challenge, to use their convening power to leverage financing for adaptation of Africa's agriculture and food systems to climate change, and to conduct regular joint portfolio reviews to assess progress on the agreed technical, institutional, and policy actions.
At technical level, they will help adapt Africa's agriculture to climate change, expand farmers' access to climate-smart technologies and formal markets for food commodities and products, and support investments in agribusiness and build effective food systems that can mitigate hunger and provide inclusive income and livelihood opportunities. At institutional level, they agreed to deepen collaboration with the AU, the RECs, national governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and the science and knowledge communities to help harmonize approaches and outputs, reduce duplication, and increase impact at scale. Finally, at policy level, they will help African countries to align national agricultural policies with climate change adaptation targets and will support them to implement climate-smart policies and programs for food and nutrition security.
"As food travels from farm to table, a great deal is simply lost to waste. And overall, we are producing much less than we are capable of. We cannot put the blame for this situation on changing weather patterns alone. Africa's farmers were poor before we saw and acknowledged climate change becoming a factor. So there are many problems we need to tackle at the same time without seeking for an excuse in one instance or the other. We cannot afford to go on like this and there is no point we cannot change. Improving the enabling environment for agriculture is something we can fully control. Increased agricultural productivity is essential for eradicating hunger and undernourishment. But food security is not where we stop. We want a continent that is truly prospering, in every sense of the term. And agriculture is undoubtedly the foundation of Africa's prosperity. That is the larger ambition we must challenge ourselves to achieve. We owe it to the generations that follow us," said His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda.
"The African Union believes strongly that partnerships are important to implement the CAADP agenda to achieve the Malabo goals and targets, including ending hunger by 2025", said Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.
"Supporting efforts in African agriculture and adapting it to climate change will require a comprehensive approach. This meeting made it very clear that we must to work together to increase access to technology for the farmers, especially women, to enable better financing, and to ensure that agriculture is part of the climate change solution. And we must do so urgently. We look forward to increasing the coordination and collaboration with our partners and believe that we can realize impacts that are much larger than what the individual organizations can achieve working separately," said Hafez Ghanem, Vice-President of the World Bank, Africa Region.
"Increasing coordination is critical because action needs to be taken at many levels, from addressing gaps in major infrastructure to transferring knowledge, finance and innovative technologies at the community, farm and even family level. IFAD is committed to continuing to work with its partners to empower the rural poor and the most vulnerable, and to ensure that smallholder farmers and agripreneurs have the capital, the knowledge and the support they need to succeed-and drive greater food security and economic development at the same time," said Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.
"Smart polices are required to create and sustain enabling conditions for investments in sustainable food and agriculture systems in a changing climate. Immense opportunities exist for informing and supporting policy with knowledge, evidence, and necessary tools. FAO believes that we have a lot to offer in collaboration with our partners to advance this important agenda within Africa. We are committed to join hands with our key partners in offering our technical and financial resources for a transformative and impactful partnership on issues of food security in a changing climate," said Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO.
"The very existence of this Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue shows that the will, the desire and the drive to transform African agriculture are strong. The African Development Bank will continue to work with development partners to tackle the continent's food and nutrition challenges," said Dr. Martin Fregene, African Development Bank Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry.