Africa: Red Cross announces scale-up in food programmes

Report
from British Red Cross
Published on 10 Apr 2008
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched a new five-year strategy to scale up food security programmes in 15 African countries.

The new plan, announced today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will invest in long-term food security projects to fight some of the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, assisting some 2.25 million people, or nearly half a million families.

The strategy will improve the capacities of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to further develop food security programmes, such as sustainable farming (including the use of appropriate technologies, seed banks and soil nutrient management), microfinance projects, small-scale irrigation schemes and the establishment of community-based food security monitoring systems.

Malnutrition on the rise

Ibrahim Osman, deputy secretary general of the Federation, said: 'Despite the fact the international community committed itself to drastically cut food insecurity through the Millenium Development Goals, malnutrition is currently on the rise in Africa, fuelled by the combined effects of poverty, HIV, climate change, conflicts and the huge increase in population growth so there is a need to act now.'

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia are participating in the programme.

British Red Cross food programmes

Mary Atkinson, food security and livelihoods advisor at the British Red Cross, said: 'We are working with the Lesotho Red Cross and Ethiopian Red Cross to ensure that the most vulnerable in chronically food insecure communities supported by HIV programmes have enough food to meet their nutritional needs.

'It is particularly important that people living with HIV have access to sufficient food as good nutrition can delay the onset of AIDS and improve the success of anti-retroviral treatment. People living with HIV also have greater nutritional needs and so need more food.

'Since households with chronically ill members are less able to do physical work, longer term food security support includes growing vegetables using techniques that require less physical work and keeping small livestock.'