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Feb 15, 2012

USAID, EU & UN Team Up to Fight Food Insecurity in Sahel

On 15 February 2012, foreign aid representatives met in Rome to discuss how to provide humanitarian aid to the Sahel region of Africa, an area increasing suffering from food insecurity, political instability, and drought.  Organizations represented included: UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Development Programme (UNDP),the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the African Union (AU), Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), and the International Council Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).

Food security in the Sahel is threatened by poor harvests caused by drought and high food prices.  In western Africa, this is augmented by the displacement caused by the conflict between Tuareg rebels and the government of Mali.

As part of the discussion, USAID announced an additional US$33 million in funding for food.  This is to be targeted at "programs to protect assets and livelihoods of the most affected and ensure that vital nutrition support is in place before the lean season."  Between October 2011 and February 2012, USAID has already provided US$42 million to the region. This in addition to the US$197.2 million given between October 2010 and September 2011 and other long-term commitments to poverty alleviation.  USAID estimates that it is supporting more than 2.5 million people across the Sahel.

At this meeting in Rome, leaders "called for a comprehensive, rapid and robust response to the crisis to address the needs of the most vulnerable – especially women and children."  They agreed to implement the following actions:

  • "Support for short-term food security and nutrition crisis response, developed by and between national governments across the region, and regional ... Scale up of existing safety net programs.
  • Deliver emergency food assistance, including- where appropriate – cash for work programs, cash transfers and food vouchers, strengthening local markets and linking local production and consumption.
  • Deploy early warning information management systems
  • Respond quickly to displacement of populations in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.
  • Provide funds to the Governments of the Sahel and regional organizations to support the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Goal 1: reducing by half, the proportion of people living in hunger and poverty by 2015.
  • Incorporate disaster risk reduction, community security and conflict prevention interventions into regional response.
  • Build household, community, national and regional resilience ... support sustainable agricultural development ... invest in smallholder agriculture and livestock systems.
  • Enhance coordination among various foreign aid organizations and government working in the region.
  • Mobilize available resources immediately."

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About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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