West Africa and the Sahel are experiencing a continuous deterioration of food and nutritional conditions as a result of the worsening security crisis in the Tri-border area (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), in the North-Western and Central States of Nigeria, in Northern Benin and Togo. This situation confirms the forecasts of the Cadre Harmonisé, whose data indicated that “approximately 38.3 million people would be food and nutritionally insecure during the lean season (June-August) and the situation would hardly improve before the end of 2022”.
In addition, there has been a general increase in the price of basic foodstuffs due in part to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, and this situation is contributing to the erosion of household purchasing power and affecting all socio-economic categories, especially the most vulnerable.
The FAO Subregional Office for West Africa and the Sahel has just developed a strategy to address the food and nutrition insecurity situation in the subregion due to the combination of multidimensional and multifactorial crises. In this strategy, FAO in the immediate future, according to the FAO Subregional Coordinator for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Gouantoueu Robert Guéi, plans to support countries to initiate and conduct activities aimed at:
– diversifying food supplies and import sources
– immediately redirect some of the available financial resources to increase support to the most vulnerable households (food insecure and/or internally displaced persons) through the expansion of social protection systems in order to mitigate the effects of rising food and oil prices
– develop a robust mechanism for pooled procurement of fertilizers across port and road corridors in the ECOWAS region, mobilizing the region’s major producers to meet the demands of fertilizer blenders and importers.
These immediate actions will be followed by others to be carried out in the short and medium term, according to the FAO’s top official in West Africa. These include
– boosting the development of agricultural, livestock and fisheries value chains according to the demand of countries to reduce their dependence on food imports, and increase their food sovereignty;
– Strengthen the adoption and digitalization of agriculture (input supply system, marketing system, E-advice);
– improve the added value of agricultural and fisheries products, facilitate market access and support the reduction of food losses and waste;
– implement institutional, regulatory and legislative measures required to facilitate project implementation;
– improve the absorptive capacity of financial resources allocated to crisis response through the use of regulatory mechanisms for procurement, acquisition and selection according to FAO quality standards.
The management team of the FAO Sub-regional Office in West Africa has been increasing its efforts to strengthen partnerships in order to mobilize more resources to implement this strategy while supporting the countries of the sub-region in dealing with the food crisis.