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Effectiveness Review: Somalia Drought Response 2011/12 | Oxfam GB

Effectiveness Review: Somalia Drought Response 2011/12 | Oxfam GB | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

This report presents the findings of an effectiveness review carried out on Oxfam's response to the 2010/11 drought-related food crisis in Somalia, undertaken through the application of Oxfam's Humanitarian Indicator Tool. For a slow onset crisis, where there was an established early-warning system, Oxfam was slow to react. Having scaled-up its internal capacity, the programme was notable for taking on the challenge needed to expand and ensure that a significant proportion was focused in the worst affected areas and, ultimately, providing assistance to over 900,000 people. The report provides examples of innovative measures taken to ensure standards of accountability were met despite the contextual challenges and the need to manage the programme remotely.

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Issues Affecting Food Security in East and Central Africa
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Breaking the poverty trap – the power of cash grants

Breaking the poverty trap – the power of cash grants | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

A cash injection of as little as US$12 per month for an impoverished family could determine whether a child eats properly or goes to school or not. With cash transfer programmes around the world now having a profound impact on the lives of poor people, the debate is less about whether to implement them than how to do so....


...“When children miss that window of opportunity from zero to two years old regarding their nutritional status, or experience late school starts or early drop-out rates, the accumulative effects have long-term consequences on their economic wellbeing into adulthood".... research has shown a direct correlation between a lack of early capital investment in children and ongoing cycles of inter-generational poverty. “This is the strongest justification for cash transfer programmes - beyond the basic human rights perspective.”  [Michelle Adato]...

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Can Africa create a new green generation of food producers?

Can Africa create a new green generation of food producers? | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it


By 2040 Africa will be home to one in five of the planet’s young people. What kind of work can they expect to find?


According to the International Labor Organisation, today over 81 million young people aged 18 to 25 are unemployed globally. 


...In Africa, young migrants from rural areas, many of them jobless, are described as the “new urban”. Africa’s rate of urbanisation, at 3.5 percent per year, is the highest in the world, concentrating disadvantaged populations and straining local resources.


That’s because by 2030, three in five people in urban areas will be younger than 18. Should this huge and combustible population continue to lack employment, then civil unrest and crime are likely to rise....


...Fortunately, by making cost-effective investments in ecosystem productivity, many African countries have already begun to realise bigger benefits....


...Creating the right policy environment is as essential as adequate education. This includes ensuring that youth are engaged, excited about and well-educated in different kinds of work related to food production.

Use of electronic devices and mobile phones is one example of how new technologies are revitalising traditional industries in Africa.


Utilising channels like this to promote agriculture and educate young people could go a long way in engaging new groups of people with the sector. Greater awareness of the benefits of agriculture as a career needs to be built amongst young people, in particular highlighting opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation and farming as a business.


Primary and high school education could include modules on farming, from growing to marketing crops. Youths need to become part of policy discussions at the local and national levels....


...Policies must also support small-scale producers. When nearly three quarters of the household budget is spent on food, few Africans can afford a 25 percent price hike on a staple. That’s why the African Union has declared 2014 the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security”....



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East Africa Exchange formally launched

East Africa Exchange formally launched | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Africa Exchange Holdings has introduced the East Africa Exchange (EAX) at the 6th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. His Excellency Presidency Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya launched the regional exchange....


...The EAX will link small-scale farmers in the East African community (EAC) to agricultural and financial markets so they can get competitive pricing for crops and access to finance. EAX will use NASDAQ’s OMX X-Stream trading platform for electronic trading and warehouse receipts so farmers can deposit their produce into EAX certified warehouses and access its services.


The importance of commodity exchanges was first mentioned in the Abuja Treaty of 1991 and endorsed by Heads of State and government in 2005. In 2013, EAX became the first regional exchange to link smallholder farmers to agricultural and financial markets with competitive pricing....


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Africa Farms for the Future

Africa Farms for the Future | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Launching a business can be hard work, especially in Africa, where weak governance systems and inconsistent access to critical resources impede success. For Africa’s farmers, the challenges are particularly pronounced. Given the vast economic and social benefits of a dynamic and modern agricultural sector, providing farmers with the incentives, investments, and regulations that they need to succeed should become a top priority.


The recent boom in Africa’s telecommunications sector – which has revolutionized entire industries, not to mention people’s lifestyles – demonstrates just how effective such an approach can be. There are more than a half-billion mobile connections on the continent today; indeed, in many respects, Africa leads the world in mobile growth and innovation.


Why has Africa been unable to replicate that growth in the agriculture sector? Why, instead of bumper crops, does Africa have an annual food-import bill of $35 billion? According to the Africa Progress Panel’s latest annual report, Grain, Fish, Money – Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions, the problem is straightforward: the odds are stacked against Africa’s farmers.


This is particularly true for smallholder farmers, most of whom are women. These farmers, who cultivate plots about the size of one or two football fields, typically lack reliable irrigation systems and quality inputs, such as seeds and soil supplements. Moreover, they rarely earn enough to invest in the needed machinery, and cannot gain access to credit....


...Africa’s farmers need an enabling environment that enables them to overcome the challenges they face. In such a context, the continent’s agricultural sector could unleash a revolution akin to that fueled by the communications industry....


...The African Union has declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. With broad action on policy, investment, and technology, Africa’s farmers can double their productivity within five years. It is time to give the agriculture sector the opportunity that all Africans need to usher in an era of shared prosperity.
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Growing Africa: Unlocking the potential of Agribusiness

A March 2013 World Bank report, Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness, called on governments to work side-by-side with agribusinesses to link farmers with consumers in what is becoming an increasingly urbanized Africa.


The World Bank notes that “Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to rise from 4.7 percent in 2013 to a forecasted 5.2 percent in 2014.

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Smallholder farming the surest route to African growth

Smallholder farming the surest route to African growth | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

When Africa’s heads of state gather for the African Union summit later this month, a leading item on their agenda is to determine the policies that will shape an agricultural market projected to be worth a trillion dollars by 2030 – three times its size in 2010.


We may argue that this market is beset by volatility and incoherence, but one thing is certain: no one should underestimate Africa’s entrepreneurial drive or the potential of millions of its smallholder farmers to feed the continent and the world. Africa’s smallholder farmers can be agriculture’s game changers of the 21st century.


The numbers speak for themselves. Up to 80% of the food we eat in Africa is produced by smallholder farmers – people who tend crops and raise livestock on less than a hectare of land – and most of them are women.


The reality is that the real output from this class of farmers remains far below their potential. When Africa’s farmers get hold of what their counterparts elsewhere in the world take for granted, they will rapidly catch up. That means empowering them with access to finance, better seeds and fertile soil, reliable markets and secure rights to their land, effective extension services and supportive policies. Policymakers can further fuel Africa’s agricultural development by overcoming obstacles that limit the productivity of women farmers relative to men.


By putting these basic principles into practice and forging strategic, well-considered partnerships, Africa’s smallholder farms can succeed as businesses connected to thriving local, regional and global markets. When Africa’s smallholder farmers prosper, Africa and the world will prosper....


....As the AU marks the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, African governments need to be challenged to make good on their Maputo commitments and implement effective strategies to achieve the targets. Governments need to engage more with public and private sector partners to unleash new sources of finance and technology for agriculture in Africa....

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African researchers seek to tackle food insecurity


Africa researchers and partners working to improve food security in the continent are due to meet in Naivasha, northwest Kenya next week to seek ways of boosting food production, organizers said on Thursday.

The conference, which is organized by the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), will provide a platform for researchers involved in food security projects, from nine African countries to showcase findings to tackling food insecurity in Africa....

....It said the food security experts will share findings on a range of thematic areas including new generation livestock vaccines; under-utilized and under-researched food crops and livestock; soil fertility and water management technologies for dryland areas; and better nutrition and diversified diets.

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Guidelines for assessing nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices

Guidelines for assessing nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Having physical and economic access to food on their own are not sufficient to ensure that people are food secure and well nourished. It is essential that people understand what constitutes a healthy diet; in particular, what nutrition-related health issues affect their communities and how to address these through food-based approaches, and know how to make the best use of their resources. They should also have positive attitudes towards nutrition, diet, foods and closely related hygiene and health issues to be able to perform optimal dietary and feeding practices that ensure their nutritional wellbeing and that of their families.

The Guidelines for assessing nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices is a reference guide and practical tool for conducting high-quality surveys of nutrition- and health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP ) at the community level.

The manual is written for people in charge of planning, implementing and evaluating food security and nutrition projects; these include project managers, nutritionists, health workers, planning and evaluation specialists and many others.
The manual includes definitions and key indicators for nutrition- and health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices. It provides useful guidance for planning and conducting a KAP survey, and for analysing and reporting the survey results.
The manual also provides model questionnaires (modules). These can be used to facilitate thedesign of KAP survey questionnaires. Using them contributes to the standardization of KAPstudies and the comparability of their results. The modules comprise predefined questionsthat capture information on critical knowledge, attitudes and practices related to the 13 most common nutrition topics

• Module 1: Feeding infants younger than 6 months
• Module 2: Feeding young children (6–23 months)
• Module 3: Diet of school-aged children
• Module 4: Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation
• Module 5: Undernutrition
• Module 6: Iron-deficiency anaemia
• Module 7: Vitamin A deficiency
• Module 8: Iodine deficiency
• Module 9: Food safety
• Module 10: Personal hygiene
• Module 11: Water and sanitation
• Module 12: Food-based dietary guidelines
• Module 13: Overweight and obesity

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RWANDA | Commits to five year agriculture strategy


Rwanda’ government has signed the second Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme ( CAADP) that will boost agriculture growth in the country....


....As the small East African nations targets to lifting three million more people out of poverty in the next five years, much emphasis is needed to boost private sector involvement in the agriculture sector....


....Under the first CAADP pact, Rwanda committed to spend 10 per cent of its budget on agriculture to grow the industry by 6 per cent....


....CAADPII aims at creating the required regulatory and policy framework that would facilitate the emergence of regional economic spaces that would spur the expansion of regional trade and cross- country investments. It focuses on accelerating growth in the agricultural sector by raising the capacities of private entrepreneurs (including commercial and small-holder farmers) to meet the increasingly complex quality and logistic requirements of markets, focusing on selected agricultural commodities that offer the potential to raise rural (on- and off-farm) incomes.

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First Catch: Strengthening fisheries and coastal management in Somaliland

First Catch: Strengthening fisheries and coastal management in Somaliland | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

BLOG by Stella Madete / Oxfam East Africa


Somaliland enjoys a vast coastline of 850 km long that borders the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Its waters are home to some of the richest fishing grounds in Africa and present considerable potential for artisanal fisheries and coastal area development, where efficient fishing, fish marketing and processing remain critical to household livelihoods, creation of jobs and income generation for people. However, the sector remains undeveloped where its ministry lacks sufficient resources and budget to implement existing policies.


Furthermore, fishing is under exploited due to the reliance on and abundance of livestock, the absence of good infrastructure and shortage of funds to equip the Ministries of Fisheries and Marine Resource with adequate capacity to carry out their mandate.


There is potential for great success with renewed investment in this sector. Local and international demand for fish is growing and this creates a great opportunity to develop fishing operations in Somaliland.


Oxfam and the European Union are working with partners to change positively the lives of individuals, businesses and organizations working in and benefitting from fishing in Somaliland. This project seeks to contribute to building a more robust fisheries sector and in turn increase access to income and food, and improve nutrition....




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EAC moves towards data sharing

EAC moves towards data sharing | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

The East African Community Partner States Ministries responsible for animal resources and national statistics have been asked to work closer together so that animal resources data management within the region can improve....


....The meeting urged the fisheries sector to review and update its ARIS 2 modules; and urged the Livestock Data Innovation Project in Africa to expand its coverage to all the remaining EAC Partner States of Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda support improvement of livestock data collection in its 2nd phase of the Project....

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SOUTH SUDAN | FAO Scaling up operations [WFP]


FAO is scaling up its emergency response operations in South Sudan despite problems of access and insecurity in parts of the country.

The Organization has extended its emergency response for an additional three months to reach conflict-affected farmers, fishers and herders with vital emergency livelihood kits that will enable them to plant crops, fish waterways and protect livestock from fatal diseases.


Since the crisis began, more than 110 000 emergency livelihood kits have been distributed, including crop seeds, fishing kits, vegetable seeds and livestock health kits....

....As well as targeting conflict-affected communities with large-scale distributions by truck, FAO successfully flew 21 tonnes of crop seeds to Pibor in Jonglei state in partnership with the United Nations Missions in Sudan (UNMISS) .


Subsequently, FAO undertook an emergency airdrop with the support of the World Food Programme (WFP) logistics capacity, dropping packages from a plane to a partner on the ground who then distributed the seed to farmers.


Although used only as a last resort due to their high cost, airdrops guarantee that farmers in the most inaccessible areas receive support, enabling them to grow their own food and making the operation cost-efficient in the long run...


...."Portability and flexibility are our watchwords right now. FAO is grateful to WFP and the donors who facilitated these initial airdrops. We will continue to integrate this logistic option as part of the FAO-WFP-UNICEF rapid response partnership."


The complex logistical operation has been possible thanks to collaboration with humanitarian partners such as WFP, the Logistics Cluster, UNMISS and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan...

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Global food security needs states to ally with family farmers

Global food security needs states to ally with family farmers | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it


South Africa's most famous cleric, Desmond Tutu, in his inimitable style, once said, "If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." His blunt speaking has particular relevance to important negotiations taking place in Rome this week at the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, which will define principles for "responsible agricultural investment" (known as RAI) in the context of an ongoing food crisis and an unprecedented wave of land grabbing.


When it comes to agriculture and food, the elephant is agribusiness. Just three companies control 50% of the commercial seed market; only four companies control 75% of the global trade in grains and soya. Their argument is that the state's role should be that of a neutral broker, encouraging primarily private investment in agriculture. They are willing to accept guidelines for "responsible investment," but within a model that sees ever increasing levels of foreign direct investment and the deepening and further integration of national agricultural sectors into global commodity chains and markets. Theirs is essentially a business-as-usual approach which seeks to retrofit the RAI principles to existing agribusiness initiatives.


While such principles will boost the profits of some corporations, the evidence shows that it will not deliver on the CFS mandate to realise the right to adequate food for all. One in eight people in the world are currently undernourished—and this has worsened in recent years. In fact, reliance on global markets led to global food prices in 2007 rising to levels in real terms not witnessed since 1846. This has not only added between 130 to 150 million people to those living in extreme poverty, it has also fueled an unprecedented wave of land grabbing across the global South by governments seeking security from food riots and corporations seeking profits from perceived scarcity.


The mice in this case are the small-holder farmers who often had their land seized or appropriated. But they are not just victims; they also provide the most progressive solutions for food security. There are an estimated 500 million smallholder farms in the developing world which provide livelihoods for 2 billion people and produce about 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is these small farmers who truly contribute to global food security...

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KENYA | Why are farmers poor if agriculture is golden-egg layer?

ANALYSIS

Trade justice for small-scale farmers


Kenya's farmers produce enormous wealth for the country yet are largely poor. They must reject the farming model that keeps them perpetually poor, indebted, frustrated into alcoholism, domestic violence and seek trade justice.


Vegetables grown on African farms are sold in retail outlets in Europe and the Middle East, while the aroma of coffee, tea and cocoa grown in her fields fills the air in most coffee and confectionery shops, outside of which the scent of flowers grown with her water fills the sidewalks.


Yet, the African small scale farmers that produce these valuable products of perpetual global demand are poor - food insecure, living in dilapidated dwellings without adequate water or sanitation, unable to pay for health care or education and unable to retire from farming as they lack a pension and other social protections....

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Bill Gates backs innovation to improve dairy supply chain in Africa

Bill Gates backs innovation to improve dairy supply chain in Africa | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Bill Gates is helping to improve Africa's dairy supply chains by assisting SME farmers to maximise the quality and quantity of milk they are able to sell.


Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Gates to improve life in developing countries, has invented and is now making commercially available a container designed specifically for milk collection and transportation.


In Kenya alone, approximately 80 per cent of the country’s milk is produced by more than a million small-scale farmers who have limited options available for collecting, storing and transporting milk. 

Global Good explained: “Traditional milk pails can be kicked over during milking and gather contaminants that accelerate spoilage. From these pails, farmers often pour milk into repurposed jerry cans that break easily and are difficult to clean.


“To address these breakdowns in the dairy supply chain, Global Good and Intellectual Ventures Laboratory set out to invent an improved milking and transportation system optimised for farmers in developing countries.”


SNV Ethiopia – a local office of the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation which aims to alleviate poverty – will invest $1 million (£583,616) as part of an ongoing dairy project in the region to coordinate local manufacturers, as well as supply chains throughout Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.


“Global Good’s milking and transportation system is exactly the type of impact-focused innovation that SNV Ethiopia looks for,” said Jan Vloet, SNV Ethiopia country director. "By addressing the needs of smallholder farmers, they’ve developed a product that has the potential to strengthen the entire rural dairy value chain.”

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Closing Africa's yield gap: Improving fertilizer

Closing Africa's yield gap: Improving fertilizer | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it


Richard Mkandawire, Vice President of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) calls on African leaders to fulfil the 2006 Abuja Declaration that pledged to raise fertilizer use in Africa to 50 kg/ha by 2015.


....By  recognizing 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, a doorway to 2015, the African Union has once again given special focus to the illusive MDG goal number one, of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The reality is that  many contraints still stifle productivity levels of the continent’s smallholder farmers. A critical aspect that is still neglected is access to fertilizer.


Fertilizers have been proved to double or even triple yields within a single cropping season. For every 1 kg of nutrient applied, farmers obtain 5-30 kg of additional product. Yet fertilizer in Africa is woefully underused. It is estimated that African soils lose 8 million tonnes of nutrients per year and that 75% of the continent has been degraded to the point of greatly reduced productivity.


Although African Heads of State took action in the Abuja Declaration of 2006, making the commitment to raise fertilizer use to 50 kg per hectare by 2015, the current average rate is still close to 10 kg per hectare. When compared to the global average of over 100 kg per hectare, it is clear that not enough progress has been made.


What is stopping fertilizer reaching the 500 million smallholder farmers in Africa, and what can be done?....High transaction costs, particularly transport cost, mean retail fertilizer prices in Africa are significantly higher than in the rest of the world, making them prohibitively expensive for the majority of small farmers.


But improving access to fertilizers, and closing the Africa yield gap once and for all is not impossible. This week, my organisation and seven others from both the public and private sector demonstrated their willingness to improve fertilizer access to African smallholders, by issuing an open letter to the African Heads of State meeting at the AU Summit in Equatorial Guinea. In this letter we called upon African leaders to work with the private sector, researchers and civil society in six key areas:

  1. Provide access to credit, finance and insurance...
  2. Facilitate imports and the distribution of diverse fertilizer products...
  3. Invest in infrastructure: transport, handling, storage, and blending facilities...
  4. Develop mobile technologies to provide information on markets, extension services and prices...
  5. Train extension workers to help farmers organize themselves...
  6. Disseminate best practices based on the integration of organic and mineral nutrients and balanced fertilization. 


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Make agriculture a sexy career choice for young Africans

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), founded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006, focuses on getting better quality seeds to farmers, boosting their access to markets and finance, helping them band together to lobby for policy change, and revitalising degraded soils.

AGRA's president, Jane Karuku, believes one of the main shifts in African farming is "how topical it has become" at both national and international levels. "The fact that African agriculture has got so much attention in the last two years is great"...


...But it's not all just talk. There is growing demand - albeit still low - for high-yielding seeds that are more resilient to climate stresses such as drought. Infrastructure is being built, mobile phones are spreading weather and price information far and wide, and mechanisation is on the rise. As a result, the productivity of African farmers has begun to creep up...


...Africa has almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, but more than 70 percent of young Africans live on less than $2 per day, and they are twice as likely to be unemployed as adults, the report said.


Encouraging more young people into agriculture is a solution that can also prevent them migrating to city slums or being drawn into illegal activities that pose a security risk...


...farming has to be profitable for young people to want to get involved, and they tend to find it hard to find start-up finance as many don't own land that can be used as collateral. So there is a need for innovative financing

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African leaders back agriculture development

African leaders back agriculture development | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

The 23rd Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union – held June 20-27 – wrapped up in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Friday, June 27, with a number of advances announced.


Organized under the theme: “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security”, the African leaders attending the Summit were unanimous on the strategies needed to promote the continent’s agricultural development, a sector which, accounts for one third of Africa’s GDP and employs about 60 percent of the labor force.


The Summit was also significant as in that it commemorated the 10 year anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)


African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called for increased public-private investment; more irrigation projects, increased access to land; and better use of science and technology to modernize farming.


....The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Director General, José Graziano da Silva congratulated African leaders on June 26 for “raising the bar” in the fight against hunger...[and] said he shared the priority to cut dependence on food imports.


Also during the summit, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization-managed Africa Solidarity Trust Fund announced support to four new projects in 24 African countries ...The four projects, worth $16 million and spread across West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, will focus on “youth employment and malnutrition, transboundary animal diseases and food safety and urban food security.”- See more at: http://afkinsider.com/62876/african-union-summit-ends-several-agriculture-high-notes/#sthash.NthOQbeC.dpuf

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Report | State of the African Farmer

Heifer International -- The State of the African Farmer report has been produced as a contribution to the great debate on agriculture and food security in Africa.


This is a compilation of the views and voices of African farmers, practitioners, policymakers and academics across Africa and beyond.

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War, rain and money – an anatomy of South Sudan’s food crisis [WFP]

War, rain and money – an anatomy of South Sudan’s food crisis [WFP] | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it



Relief workers scrambling to avert a famine report daunting obstacles: from the failure of South Sudan’s feuding leaders to halt the conflict, to near-impossible logistics and limited international attention and resources.

“The biggest single obstacle is the absence of peace,” Toby Lanzer, the top UN humanitarian official in South Sudan, told IRIN. “You still have a lot of people on the move, the continuation at least of a threat of violence breaking out at any stage.”...

....The failure of international pressure to stop the fighting before the planting season has prompted increasingly loud warnings that starvation could lead to far more deaths unless beleaguered civilians receive urgent - and sustained - assistance....

....Relief agencies identify the southern counties of Unity State and parts of neighbouring Jonglei among the most critically affected areas of the France-sized country....

....Hopes of trucking food and other emergency supplies to isolated areas before the rains made many roads impassable were dashed by continued insecurity.

The government and opposition agreed in early May to observe a “month of tranquillity” in order to allow civilians to go back home and sow their land, and to let in more humanitarian aid. But fitful peace talks in Addis Ababa have made little progress, violence has continued, and there have been few reports of civilians returning home in significant numbers.

“There’s a lot of tension. Places like Bentiu (the capital of Unity State) are really on a knife-edge. Anything can happen there, and it’s not the only location,” Mike Sackett, the acting country director for WFP in South Sudan, told IRIN.

Where WFP did manage to pre-position food before the rains, much of it has been looted by armed factions or hungry civilians. In May, three warehouses in Upper Nile State were emptied after the areas where they were located changed hands during the fighting, Sackett said.

With most main roads impassable, WFP has had to focus on airlifting and airdropping supplies, mostly using huge Russian-built Ilyushin cargo planes.

To make sure the rations reached the most needy, and help prevent aid being seized by combatants, Sackett said WFP was inserting small “hit-and-run” teams into crisis zones for little more than a week to assess requirements, register those in need, and oversee the airdrops and the distribution. Other partners were vaccinating children and distributing seeds at the same time.

He said WFP enjoyed considerable goodwill from the two warring parties - a legacy of its massive aid operation in the 1990s during Sudan’s long civil war – and that this helped keep its aircraft and ground teams safe.

However, Sackett said his agency simply doesn’t have enough food to meet the needs....

....Plans to distribute 17,000 tons of food in June, for instance, were probably not possible because of a “constrained pipeline,” he said. “We are overcoming the logistic constraints by more and more aircraft, but we don’t have the food to get up to the plan.”....

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Understanding food security through a gendered lens

BLOG by Georgina Aboud, Gender and Food Security Convenor at IDS/BRIDGE.


At the heart of the IDS Knowledge Services' gender team - BRIDGE - is a passion for understanding and promoting gender justice through participatory approaches. BRIDGE's latest publication - the Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Food Security - due to be published in autumn 2014, is an excellent example of this. The team recently convened a highly engaging 48 hour online discussion, from 13-14th May, with the main objective of allowing experts to share and exchange ideas on the most current thinking and practice on the issue in order to inform and strengthen the publication.

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FAO urges global commitment to tackle world’s nutrition challenges

FAO urges global commitment to tackle world’s nutrition challenges | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today called on countries to put nutrition high on their national and international agendas, and to take a lead role in the upcoming Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2). The meeting will be jointly organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) in November in Rome....

....Set to take place in Rome 19-21 November, ICN2 will be the first global intergovernmental conference to address the world’s nutrition problems in the 21st century. It is co-organized by FAO and WHO with other UN and international organizations.

The conference seeks to accelerate progress on nutrition through national policies and effective international cooperation by identifying ways and means to overcome obstacles, especially by ensuring that food systems better address nutrition needs. ICN2 should approve a political declaration on nutrition and a framework for action to ensure effective implementation of the commitments made at this high-level meeting.

Heads of state and government, other dignitaries and leaders have been invited to the high-level conference. Pope Francis has already confirmed his participation.

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Fish, Grain and Money: Kofi Annan's prescription for Africa's progress

Fish, Grain and Money: Kofi Annan's prescription for Africa's progress | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, feels that Africa is well positioned to feed the world’s burgeoning population, with a capacity the ‘double’ agricultural production in the next five years.

Yet what is holding it back? Annan stated in the Africa Progress Panel’s (APP) April 2014 report, “Fish Grain Money,” that “the unacceptable reality” is outdated farming and grazing techniques holding smallholder farmers back from realising Africa’s full potential....


...The problem is not in the farming industry itself, but rather the financial needs being neglected, according to Annan. “Africa’s farmers and fishers are equal to the challenge, but they need the opportunity. They need their governments to demonstrate more ambition on their behalf,” he said.


“When farmers access finance – credit, savings, insurance – they can insure themselves against risks such as drought, and invest more effectively in better seeds, fertilizers and pest control…trade barriers and inadequate infrastructure are preventing our farmers from competing effectively. They are being told to box with their hands tied behind their backs.”


With the continent’s massive agricultural capacity, it’s ironic to note, as Annan points out, that Africa currently imports food (excluding fish) amounting to $35 billion a year....


.....The growth paradox of African economies is a familiar story to many and is further reinforced by the newest APP report. While recent years have seen booming economies, rising foreign investment and blossoming democratic governments, 48.5 per cent of Africans still live below the poverty line and just a quarter have formal bank accounts....


.....The other main issue, access to finance, plagues both infrastructural projects—with an estimated $48 billion financing gap—and smallholders throughout rural areas. 


“Africa’s financial systems are another constraint on growth,” APP said. “Such financial exclusion undermines opportunities for reducing poverty and boosting growth that benefits all. Lacking access to insurance, Africa’s farmers have to put their meagre savings into contingency funds to deal with emergencies, rather than investing them in boosting productivity.”


In other words, lack of infrastructure and financing are a ‘bottleneck’ for growth and opportunity, both in a wide economic sense and within the banking sector.....


.....“Foreign investors are increasingly choosing Africa as a lucrative opportunity, and pouring money into agribusiness. At best these investments bring jobs, finance and critical knowhow. At worst, they deprive African people of their land and water. African governments must regulate these investments and use them to Africa’s advantage. Agreements between African governments and business have to be mutually beneficial,” Kofi Annan said.

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Which wealth groups experience the greatest reductions in stunting?

BLOG by Lawrence Haddad of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)


When we report stunting rates we tend to focus on the entire population.

But we know that wealthier households tend to have lower rates of stunting. This is because higher household wealth can buy more and better food, clean water, improved sanitation and higher quality healthcare. It is not a perfect relationship by any means, but it is regular.

But what is happening to this disparity in stunting rates across income groups as overall stunting rates improve? And the lowest wealth groups reducing stunting more quickly than the highest wealth groups or is the opposite true? A new paper using MICS and DHS datasets and authored by Caryn Bredenkamp and colleagues, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, answers these questions.


The answers tell us something about the pro-poor sensitivity of nutrition actions. Countries that do better at reducing stunting in the wealthier rather than the poorer groups have nutrition plans that are geared to addressing the easier cases. Those that are better at reducing stunting among the lower socio-economic status groups have figured out a way of reaching the poorest children in an effective way....


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Commerical land grabs threaten global food ecosystem

Commerical land grabs threaten global food ecosystem | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

By 2050, the world will have to feed 9 billion people, which will require 50 percent more agricultural productivity over current levels. Meeting this challenge will be increasingly difficult, given the threats to global food supplies not only from climate change but also from large-scale corporate acquisitions of farmland.


As the demand for sustainable and productive farm practices increases, incentives for export-oriented commodity farming have constricted the supply of arable land. In the last 50 years, the land cultivated for soybeans, African palm oil, rapeseed and sugar cane has increased fourfold, primarily for industrial processing.


Such land grabs for large-scale agriculture are not just locally driven: International financial institutions and free trade agreements encourage taxes and other incentives for foreign direct investment to fund agribusiness, disadvantaging and displacing subsistence farmers, pastoralists and indigenous people who rely on the land to survive. While climate change will disproportionately affect the world’s poor, no one will escape unscathed. As the Oakland Institute, a California-based policy think tank, reported in February, land grabs are not just a concern for developing countries; they may imperil the United States’ food supply as well.


Food shortages will also threaten global security. On March 31, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a dire assessment. The panel concluded that human-induced ecological changes increase “risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and intergroup violence.” Similarly, in April, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim noted, “Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years.” 

The time to promote and protect local control over land and food production is now....


....A survey by the global charity Oxfam released in April found that private agricultural investment can negatively affect food security by displacing local communities, eliminating their access to land for subsistence farming, exposing locals to harmful agrochemicals, degrading the environment and bypassing local protections for land tenure. Yet, even when the investments were aimed at small-scale farms, agribusiness models of monoculture cultivation were not readily transferrable to sustainable local food production. In addition, studies show that locally controlled farms outperform industrial agribusiness in a number of benchmarks, including productivity, environmental stewardship and promoting social cohesion.


Ensuring food security for the world’s poor requires a multipronged and multilateral approach. Industrial agriculture could be one tool in the arsenal to combat hunger. But existing policies must be carefully calibrated to increase food security and land tenure for the world’s poor, not enrich agribusinesses. Transnational institutions and local governments must invest in sustainable smallholder farms, and support pastoralists and indigenous groups who have proved their good stewardship of the land. In its prophesied mission to end extreme poverty within a generation, the World Bank must disavow policies that accelerate land grabs, food insecurity and conflict, and explicitly integrate human rights standards into its mission.

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