Dakar, 26 April, 2012. A ‘twin track’ approach that focuses on African solutions and joint advocacy on the worsening Sahel Food Crisis were two of the agreed outcomes of a Forum hosted by the African Union (AU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) April 25 and 26 in Dakar, Senegal.
"Africa is vulnerable but not poor, it has the potential to feed itself, but still, millions go hungry and reliance on donor aid continues to grow. For this reason we must take a twin track approach addressing both urgent needs and long term sustainable growth and resilience. Put simply - we must grow the food that Africa needs in Africa," said IFRC Africa Zone Director Alasan Senghore.
"Governments need to rediscover and reinvest into small scale agriculture – 70% of Africa’s food is produced in this way and the vast majority of it by women. We must target women as key stakeholders to create greater food security in the long term," said Senghore.
As a major step in addressing the situation in the Sahel, the meeting was jointly convened by the AU and the IFRC and attended by Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies from the affected region and around the world, international organisations, regional economic institutions, civil society and donor governments.
Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Head of Agriculture and Food Security at the AU said the Forum was successful as a first step in achieving greater coordination in response to the threat of a large scale food crisis.
"Outcomes include agreement to address policy and financial barriers to successful production and therefore, livelihoods, through sustainable and equitable agricultural growth and development. Within the context of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), governments can increase budget allocation to support small farmers and the most vulnerable in sectors such as agriculture, health, trade and social protection," said Dr Akinbamijo.
IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta, who led the Ethiopian Red Cross during the food crisis of 1984, took part in the Forum on day one. Geleta believes that it is this level of cooperation and coordination that will lead to an Africa that is viewed on the world stage as an opportunity rather than a problem.
"After taking part in the Forum, I believe more than ever in Africa’s potential to shape its own transformation and I also believe that this feeling is growing," said Geleta.
Other outcomes agreed upon were the consistent sharing of regional and global trends on food insecurity and agriculture; shared positions and platforms by the AU and IFRC; a significant role for Red Cross Red Crescent in disseminating early warning information and a leadership role for AU in mobilising high level support.
Calls for action from the Forum include greater access to vulnerable populations; improved infrastructure for better movement and delivery of agricultural commodities and services and increased resources to cover gaps based on evidence analysis and needs.
The African Union also announced preparations for a high-level forum to take place in Burkina Faso in May that will take forward many of the recommendations from this Forum, encouraging a swift implementation of activities by Red Cross Red Crescent national societies and other humanitarian organisations.
IFRC is targeting 1 million people through appeals for affected countries; however it has reached only a very small proportion of its 18 million Swiss franc target. More information on the appeals can be found at www.ifrc.org
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