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Project to Eradicate Hunger in West Africa Announced

PROJECT NEWS

18 October 2012 – A new  project has been launched by the United Nations, the Economic  Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the German Government to eradicate hunger in West Africa by increasing engagement and political  commitment in the region.  The Hunger-free  Initiative for West Africa will support the 15 ECOWAS members to increase  commitment and collaboration among key decision-makers of all sectors. This is expected  to translate into increased budgets allocations to food and nutrition security  as well as private investment to combat poverty, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The  three-year initiative will also help ECOWAS in the implementation of the so-called  Regional Partnership Compact for the Implementation  of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which  aims to increase public investment in agriculture and raise agricultural  productivity.

(Photo: From left: Lapodini Atouga, ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, German Minister Ilse Aigner, Djibo Bagna, President of ROPPA, Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa, and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva; photo courtesy of FAO).

“The  project will be crucial for hunger eradication as it will integrate the right  to food into national CAADP initiatives,” said the FAO Director-General, José  Graziano da Silva, noting that the project has the potential to become a model  for other regions of Africa and Asia.

“We  need more cooperation among governments and the active involvement of political  leaders, civil society, academia, development partners and others throughout  the region,” he added in an FAO news release.

While  hunger has declined at a global level over the last 20 years, it has risen in  sub-Saharan Africa from 170 million people  experiencing it to 234 million. According to FAO, several ECOWAS countries saw  a steady reduction in hunger numbers until 2006-2008, but progress has slowed  since.  In  addition, the food price crisis in 2008 and a drought-triggered emergency in  the Sahel earlier this year, placing up to 19  million people at risk of food insecurity, showed that countries struggle to  maintain lower figures of undernourishment and malnutrition in times of stress  and external shocks.

“We  need to reverse this situation. But it’s not only about more funds, it’s about  working together and focusing better our efforts in areas where we can really  make a difference,” said Mr. Graziano da Silva. “When we stand together we can  make a difference.”

Germany  will provide $2.4 million for the project, and ECOWAS has announced its  commitment to co-fund the initiative and to ensure adequate participation of  all member countries through awareness-raising, advocacy, and the establishment  and strengthening of multi-stakeholder partnerships that promote  accountability.

FAO added that the Hunger-free Initiative  for West Africa was launched in the  framework of the existing CAAPD, and builds on the Hunger Free for Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative which  created the conditions for eradicating hunger permanently in the region by 2025.

Established in 1945 and headquartered in Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is an intergovernmental affiliation of 191 member nations, two associate members and one member organization, the European Union.  An arm of the United Nations, FAO is composed of seven departments: Agriculture and Consumer Protection; Economic and Social Development; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Forestry; Corporate Services, Human Resources and Finance; Natural Resources Management and Environment; and Technical Cooperation.  FAO is present in over 130 countries, with five regional offices, 11 sub-regional offices, two multidisciplinary teams, and 74 fully fledged country offices.

FAO’s mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.  In 2010, FAO implemented programmes and projects around the world with a total value of US$903 million.  For more information, visit www.fao.org.

Source: United Nations