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Building resilient food systems against food security threats in Africa

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Mrs. Fatuma Abdi Dalmar, a farmer in Jijiga Ethiopia, has lot almost all her crops to invading locusts swarms © FAO/Petterik Wiggers

A regional dialogue looks into the impact of Conflict-Climate change-COVID-19 Nexus on food systems

02 March 2021, Addis Ababa - Concerted efforts to reshape Africa's food system to be more resilient, productive and inclusive is vital to withstand food security threats and achieve SDG and Agenda 2063 commitments. This was the key message that came out of the inter-agency dialogue on the impacts of Conflict-Climate change-COVID-19 Nexus on Africa's food systems.

Building on the overall theme of the Seventh Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, "Building forward better: towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063", the side event highlighted the connection and implications of conflicts, climate, and the COVID-19 pandemic (CCC-Nexus) on Africa's food systems. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly organized the virtual side event along with the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on 01 March 2021.

"Food systems in Africa have been adversely affected by the compounded impacts of climate-induced shocks, conflicts and most-recently, COVID-19," said Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa. These triple risks have resulted in unprecedented socio-economic impacts and eroded the resilience of large segments of the population on the continent, especially the poor and marginalized groups" and are threatening to wipe out the gains made towards achieving food and nutrition security in Africa.

The triple risks are interlinked as a nexus and present complex challenges. Climate change is a critical driver of resource-based conflicts. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated this conflict situation through increased competition for water, pasture and land – all of which are essential assets in promoting food systems. The pandemic possesses the same drivers of conflict as those from climate variability and change. Volatile security situations and the coronavirus pandemic threaten food systems and rural livelihoods.

This reality was echoed by H.E. John Kanisio, Secretary-General, South Sudan Food Security Council, who stated that conflict had disrupted the road transportation network, adversely impacting food security in his country. Kanisio also emphasized that COVID-19 containment measures have disrupted humanitarian interventions.

Dina Saleh, IFAD Regional Director for Europe, Near East, Central Asia and North Africa Region, reminded that transforming food systems in Africa to make them more sustainable and resilient was of primary importance even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. After decades of continued decrease, hunger and malnutrition have been rising again in recent years, reaching almost 700 million people. Saleh added that "improving food security should be considered a precondition to foster sustainable development for the whole of Africa."

Solutions to improve food and nutrition security

Moving forward, Phiri highlighted the need to build resilient policies and programmes that support the continent and communities to deal with the adverse effects of the triple threats. Promoting peace and stability is paramount and must include livelihood support, social protection programmes, and community-based approaches to help build relationships and promote social cohesion.

The side event also heard from high-level officials from the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, the Eastern Africa Grain Council, Pan-African Farmers' Organization, high-level representatives from member states, and development actors and organizing agencies.

Key actionable recommendations towards building a sustainable and resilient food system included: setting up integrated analyses of risks and vulnerabilities, adopting multi-sector and inclusive approaches, and additional and long-term financial backing. Building resilience to conflicts promotes peace and stability. Strengthening global and local actions on climate change, and reshaping food systems to be more inclusive of poor and marginalized populations are critical.

The meeting agreed that promoting the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus and a shift from business as usual to accelerated actions towards transforming food systems for achieving SDGs and Agenda 2063 are critical to ensure food and nutrition security in Africa.

For more information, please contact:

Tezeta HaileMeskel
Communication Specialist
FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa
Tezeta.Hailemeskel@fao.org

and

Abebe Banjaw
Communication Specialist
FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa
Abebe.Banjaw@fao.org