By Folasade Folarin
Abuja – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says it has teamed up with three other agencies to work closely in addressing food insecurity in Africa.
In a statement on its website on Tuesday, ECA listed the agencies as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The Commission added in the statement that the ECA Executive Secretary, Ms Vera Songwe, had a meeting with principal officials of the various organisations on Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It said the four agencies agreed to strengthen their relationship to effectively deal with food security issues on the continent.
“This will be with more focus and emphasis on statistics, policy development and land with a view to improving agricultural productivity,’’ the statement quoted Songwe as saying on the agreement.
The Executive Secretary had assured the other agencies that ECA was ready to deepen its collaboration with the three organisations.
She noted that the fact that the leaders of the Rome-based UN agencies were in Ethiopia at the same time was a good omen.
Songwe said it was strong indication of how important the issue of food security on the continent was to them.
“Under one roof we have combined knowledge on climate change, food security, and conflict.
“These issues are relevant for the challenges we face, such as migration and must be tackled in a comprehensive way.
“We have been collaborating already with the three agencies and there is a lot that can be done if we pull our resources together.”
She also said ECA was ready to contribute to the partnership on the policy side and training in particular.
“This is because the organisations work together in their quest to achieve zero hunger on the continent,” the ECA Executive Secretary said.
She emphasised the need for data and statistics to help guide agriculture and land policy, adding that this was crucial for the gender agenda and to bring in private investment.
“This is a great example of how we can work together and move forward as one UN with one goal as we talk about peace, security, development and the sustainable development goals,” Songwe added.
The WFP Executive Director, Mr David Beasleyn said achieving food security was of utmost importance to Africa.
He said even though Africa has got a lot of problems, there were also a lot of success stories.
“It is sad that over 10 million people on the continent face hunger on a daily basis,” Beasleyn said.
He said if the continent must achieve zero hunger by 2030, it must put an end to conflicts and wars.
“Eighty per cent of funding presently was on war zones, which distracts funding from sustainable development.
“If we can end these conflicts and with the expertise of the men and women we have, then we can achieve zero hunger and if we achieve food security, we would have less conflicts and migration.
“We believe that our men and women are committed to addressing the root cause of food insecurity in Africa.
“So, we want to partner with ECA and do everything we can. We know the Commission is interested in the same issues as we are, so let’s do more together.”
IFAD’s President, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, a former Togolese Prime Minister, said he was excited that the leadership of the Rome-based agencies were meeting with Ms. Songwe and her team.
He pointed out that land issues were important in the ongoing work to address food insecurity in Africa.
Director-General of FAO, Graziano da Silva, said he was increasingly concerned by the link between conflict, climate change and food security on the continent.
He added that there was need for the four organisations to be more forceful in their approach in addressing the issues.(NAN)