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Source: Small Island Developing States

6 August 2019: The first Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue focused on ways to strengthen and accelerate multilateral agencies’ support to food security programs in Africa and help African agriculture adapt to climate change through increased partnerships and coordination. More than 250 high-level decision makers including 28 African ministers, Nobel Laureates, technical specialists in Africa and high-level representatives from international and bilateral development partners agreed on a communique that commits financial and technical support “commensurate to the size of the food security challenge.”

The high-level meeting took place from 5-6 August, in Kigali, Rwanda. The Leadership Dialogue aimed to engage governments and key development partners, and foster unified action for Africa’s agriculture and food systems in response to climate change. It was organized by the Africa Union (AU), the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The World Bank explains that, even though Sub-Saharan Africa’s farming sector has grown faster than anywhere else in the world, with a 4.6% agriculture gross domestic product growth rate from 2000 to 2018, about 20% of Africa’s population (256 million people) face severe food insecurity. The communique notes that the situation is worsening because of climate change and conflicts: extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have become more frequent and prolonged, leading to diminished productive capacity of the land and loss of natural capital; and farmers face several major climate risks, especially in rainfed agriculture and pastoral production systems. The net effect, the communique explains, is that per-capita food production is declining given a rapidly growing population, making food less available and accessible to a significant portion of the population. The number of undernourished people in most sub-regions has risen since 2014, and the text cautions that if the trend continues “the hard-won gains of previous years will be lost.”

By the text, at the technical level, multilateral development agencies and their development partners will help adapt Africa’s agriculture to climate change, expand farmers’ access to climate-smart technologies and formal markets for food commodities and products, and support investments in agribusiness and build effective food systems that can mitigate hunger and provide inclusive income and livelihood opportunities.

At institutional level, the signatories of the communique will “deepen collaboration” with the AU, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), national governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and the science and knowledge communities to help harmonize approaches and outputs, reduce duplication, and increase impact at scale.

At the policy level, multilateral development agencies will help African countries to align national agricultural policies with climate change adaptation targets and will support them to implement climate-smart policies and programs for food and nutrition security.

Concretely, the signatories of the communique agree to:

  • Leverage science and digital technologies to adapt agriculture and food systems to climate change and create incentives for the private sector to invest in climate-smart agriculture and food systems;
  • Support the existing Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) mutual accountability framework through regional, sub-regional, and national platforms;
  • Scale-up “strong forms of collaboration” among partners, including joint planning and programming, co-financing and parallel-financing, joint analytical and advisory activities, and joint communication; and
  • Commit financial and technical support “that is commensurate to the size of the food security challenge,” and use their convening power of partners to leverage financing for adaptation of Africa’s agriculture to climate change.

The communique is intended firstly to formalize the commitments of the World Bank, FAO, AfDB, and the IFAD to a new way of working jointly to address food and nutrition security and achieve impacts that are much larger than what the individual organizations could offer working separately. By the text, their strengthened collaborative partnership will be “the core nucleus” in support of the wider partnership with the AU, RECs, AU Member States, and the regional and international organizations that collaborate with development partners across Africa.

While the multilateral development partners and the AU are the core signatories to the communique, the document is open for signing by other regional and international organizations. Endorsement represents an affirmation of its principles and a commitment to participate in processes for its operationalization. [Communique] [Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue] [World Bank Press Release] [UN Press Release]

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