International Federation launches new five-year food security strategy in Africa focussing on long-term investments

Published: 10 April 2008

Investing in long-term food security projects in Africa is key to fight some of the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as it launches 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 be financed through an appeal for 45 million Swiss francs (US$ 43.5 million / euro 28.5 million) over the next five years. The funds will be used to assist some 2.25 million people, or nearly half a million families.

More than 80 per cent of this budget will go directly to country level programming. It includes improving the capacities of National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to further develop food security programmes such as sustainable farming (including activities such as 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.

“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 and throughout the world, 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,” says Ibrahim Osman, deputy secretary general of the International Federation.

“Our objective is to fight this trend by significantly scaling up Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based food security programmes in Africa over the next five years, reaching at least 20 per cent of the most vulnerable populations, strengthening their resilience and coping mechanisms,” adds Mohammed Mukhier, Head of the Policy and Preparedness Department at the International Federation.

To increase their efficiency, long-term food security programmes will be integrated with existing community-based healthcare projects – especially HIV - and water and sanitation programmes. “Along with helping the most vulnerable to meet their immediate basic needs for food, we believe that long-lasting solutions to fight hunger in Africa can only be found through a clear focus on long term investments both in terms of technical support to local staff and volunteers and through better support and protection for local communities and their livelihoods,” says Mija Ververs, Senior Officer for food security and nutrition at the International Federation in Geneva.

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.