Despite a plethora of challenges affecting food and nutrition security in Africa, the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and Regional Agriculture Investment Plans (RAIPs) are instrumental in driving the agriculture transformation processes and building resilient food systems on the continent.
In her welcome remarks delivered virtually at the high-level meeting of the National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIPs) Status and Implementation for the Delivery of the Malabo Declaration on Africa Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in Dakar, Senegal, today, highlighted challenges hampering the attainment of food security and underscored the importance of embracing these strategies as tools for ensuring food security.
She said COVID-19 and its socio-economic consequences have exacerbated food insecurity and malnutrition globally. In Africa, compared with 2019, about 46 million more people were affected by hunger in 2020, in the shadow of the pandemic. Further evidence suggests that, without urgent action, COVID-19 could result in an additional 9.3 million wasted children – on top of the 45 million in 2020 – and an additional 2.6 million stunted children – on top of the 149 million in 2020 – globally by the end of 2022, backsliding a decade of progress on nutrition.
“Moreover, other challenges affecting food and nutrition security in the continent are but are not limited to Climate Change, Conflicts and terrorism, and the increased cost of food. For instance, in the Horn of Africa region, severe droughts since 1981 are leading to the death of livestock and crop failure, resulting in an estimated 13 million people waking up hungry every day. Similarly, conflict is a major threat to food security and the leading cause of global food crises in 2020 and now the conflict in Ukraine and Russia has plunged global food and energy markets into turmoil, raising high food prices even further. These increases once passed on to our local domestic markets, will limit people’s access to food of adequate quantity and quality. FAO has estimated that, globally, the number of undernourished people, which was around 817 million in 2021, could increase by 7.6 – 13.1 million people in 2022-2023.
“Today, I am very delighted that we are nearing the end of the second decade (MALABO Declaration) of the NAIP and RAIP implementation, it is of paramount importance to take stock on how far the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and Regional Agriculture Investment Plans (RAIPs) were instrumental in driving the agriculture transformation processes and building resilient on food systems. Further, I would like to also congratulate the Member States here present and with the support of partners, that we have managed to successfully sustain and expand the CAADP process for more than a decade,” Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas said.
She alluded to the development of the Africa Common Position on Food Systems as a success story which provides a synthesis of member states’ expressed views, perspectives, and priorities as well as ambitions on key issues shaping Africa and the global food systems.
Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas said the work built on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as a continental policy framework for agricultural transformation to increase food security and nutrition and reduce poverty and the commitment to agricultural transformation under the African Union (AU) CAADP Malabo declaration on agricultural growth and transformation, the African Common Position on Food Systems shall bring renewed impetus to agriculture developed on the African Continent.
“The ultimate objective of the Africa Common Position is to create awareness, build consensus on the shared vision and critically galvanise necessary individual and collective set of actions including policy alignment and increased investments towards building and sustaining resilient, viable and inclusive food systems. Specifically, aiming at:
(i) providing an overview of Africa’s food systems;
(ii) presenting challenges and opportunities in Africa’s food systems, recognising food systems as a cross-cutting development issue;
(iii) examining the drivers and levers of Africa’s food systems and thereby highlighting Africa’s game-changing solutions along identified priority areas.
“Africa expects the momentum created by the UNFSS to result in mobilizing and galvanizing implementation of its priorities in Agenda 2063, the CAADP-Malabo declaration, the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and other AU continental development frameworks.”
She reiterated that the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) is mandated to coordinate and promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of the AU Agenda 2063.
The development expert said the NAIPs purpose is to provide a plan of action to achieve the Malabo commitments through key interventions aimed at stimulating agricultural growth to reduce poverty and improve nutrition and food security.
In line with the above, AUDA-NEPAD developed a blueprint for the Rural Futures Programme in 2019, which aims to support countries to achieve sustainable rural development to meet the challenges of high population growth, unemployment, and underemployment in rural areas, especially among young people, the growing demand for food and soaring prices, climate change and variability, food insecurity, delays in agricultural yields and weak rural-urban linkages. This programme is an enabler for effective CAADP implementation, the Rural Futures Programme within the wider framework of rural and national economic transformation places particular emphasis on the building of rural resilience through in particular strengthening market linkages and value chain development as well as enabling equitable access to natural assets and sustainable land and water management.
She emphasised that the 3-day meeting can be an opportunity to engage all AU Member States and work towards strengthened financing, implementation capacity, and multi-stakeholder coordination on CAADP and building on the outcomes and commitments of 2021 such as, the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), COP26, and the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit.
The year 2022 is declared as the AU Year of Nutrition-themed “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development”.
Stakeholders, in the African spirit of ‘UBUNTU’ which means ‘TOGETHERNESS’ – ‘HUMANITY’, were urged to work harmoniously to end hunger and eliminate malnutrition in Africa – for the benefit of not only Africa, but the World.
In his remarks during the opening ceremony of the workshop, HE Papa Malick, the Ndao Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment of Senegal said investment in African agriculture leads to food security despite challenges like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine and underscored the importance of NAIPs towards attaining that goal.
Madam Estherine Fotabong, the Director of Programme Innovation and Planning of AUDA-NEPAD underscored the need for stakeholders to take concrete and immediate action toward food security in Africa.