Myanmar can flourish by sowing seeds of agricultural prosperity

By Deirdre May Culley and Martha Baxter, policy analysts at the OECD Development Centre

MyanmarDEVmattersOn 30 March, Htin Kyaw, a long-time adviser and ally of Aung San Suu Kyi – whose National League for Democracy party achieved a historic victory in recent electionsbecame the first elected civilian to hold office in Myanmar since the army took over in 1962.

The NLD won the democratic battle and enjoys unparalleled political capital and legitimacy. It must now deliver on exceedingly high expectations, build a cohesive multi-ethnic state and improve citizens’ lives. Economic progress will be indispensable if the country is to overcome years of ethnic armed conflict and move towards a common future. So what can the new government do?

Continue reading

Nourrir sa population constitue le principal secteur d’activité de l’économie de l’Afrique de l’Ouest

par Laurent Bossard, Directeur, Secrétariat du Club du Sahel et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CSAO/OCDE)

(English version follows)

Cover image FREn inaugurant la nouvelle collection  « Notes Ouest-africaines » du Secrétariat du CSAO/OCDE, T. Allen et P. Heinrigs nous proposent une réflexion sur les opportunités de l’économie alimentaire de la région. Une occasion utile et nécessaire de se tourner vers le passé pour mesurer l’ampleur des mutations du monde réel… et de celles des idées.  

Je fais partie de ceux qui ont l’âge de se souvenir de l’agriculture ouest-africaine – sahélienne en particulier – au milieu des années 1980. Nous constations – déjà – la puissance de la croissance démographique. Entre 1960 et 1985, le nombre de sahéliens avait doublé et la population urbaine avait été multipliée par cinq. Et l’agriculture ne suivait pas le rythme. Abstraction faite des aléas climatiques (on sortait de la grande sécheresse de 1983), la tendance sur 25 ans était à l’augmentation des importations à un rythme de l’ordre de 8% par an. Jacques Giri dans son livre « Le sahel face aux futurs » paru en 1987, tirait la sonnette d’alarme : « Le système de production alimentaire sahélien est demeuré très traditionnel dans son ensemble, très vulnérable à la sécheresse et peu productif : il ne s’est adapté ni en quantité, ni en qualité, aux besoins (..). La région est de plus en plus dépendante de l’extérieur et en particulier de l’aide alimentaire. Le retour à des conditions climatiques plus favorables n’a pas fait disparaître cette dépendance ».  Continue reading

AGIR: Resilience, a buzzword or a long-term commitment?

By Julia Wanjiru, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

image-AGIR-UNICEFAfter three years of consultations following the adoption of a regional roadmap for the Global Alliance for Resilience (AGIR), the West African region can proudly announce that all 17 Sahelian and West African countries have embarked on an ambitious process to define their national resilience priorities (NRP-AGIR). To date, six countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo) have validated their NRPs; five countries (Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal) are in the process of validation.

While some partners are growing impatient, others underline the quality and inclusiveness of a process that is laying the groundwork for future implementation. AGIR stakeholders took stock of progress made in developing the NRPs during the recent meeting of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) on 15 April 2016 at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Some national representatives are asking for additional financial support (“We have advanced well, but we need more support”), while technical and financial partners want to further improve the quality of co-ordination and are eagerly awaiting the concrete next steps in implementing the NRPs. In this context, it is worth recalling that AGIR is not just another programme or initiative. It is a policy tool which aims to channel the efforts of regional and international stakeholders toward a common results-based framework to achieve the  “Zero Hunger” goal. It is also a long-term political partnership to improve the effectiveness of Sahelian and West African resilience initiatives.

In reality, the implementation of many resilience projects has already started… and for most Sahelians and West Africans, resilience has been part of their lives for a long time.

What has been achieved since the creation of AGIR?

An affirmed, strong West African leadership is the first and maybe most important achievement. The Alliance is run under the political guidance of ECOWAS and UEMOA, with the technical support of CILSS, which hosts the AGIR Support Unit that facilitates co-ordination and supports countries in their efforts to conduct inclusive dialogues. All national governments are involved in the process. AGIR is based on existing platforms and networks, in particular the RPCA, which plays a key role in implementing the Alliance and lobbying on the international scene –  a “win-win” situation for  AGIR to capitalise on and strengthen existing networks and structures.

Improved  mobilisation of development partners. Resilience had almost disappeared from the development agenda and was powerfully re-introduced in 2012 when humanitarian and development actors recognised that recurrent food crises in the Sahel can only be tackled if the root causes of food insecurity are addressed through a systematic and long-term approach. AGIR recognises that resilience-building is necessarily a long-term endeavour that can only be achieved through full national and regional ownership; it recognises that it is not only better but cheaper to invest in prevention and preparedness of the most vulnerable populations.

All stakeholders clearly acknowledge the importance of a multi-sectoral approach, recognising that agricultural production and better functioning markets alone will not be sufficient to build the resilience of vulnerable populations. In this respect, the NRP process is not a simple copy and paste of existing policy texts. On the contrary, the NRP process provides a new reading of existing policies that goes beyond agriculture and food security concerns. It involves a large number of  different ministries and portfolios: education, health, territorial planning, rural/urban development, gender issues, etc., that all contribute to reducing vulnerability and building resilience. The efficiency of multi-sectoral approaches is broadly recognised, but the actual implementation on the ground still poses immense challenges for West African policy makers and development partners alike.

Last but not least, another important achievement is the inclusiveness of the process, with a clear effort to involve civil society representatives. Eight networks of civil society organisations have participated in the work of the Alliance since the very beginning. “They have become true ambassadors for AGIR at both the regional and international levels”, confirms CILSS Technical Unit Co-ordinator Martin Issa Bikienga. This is a good starting point; the relevance of their contributions must be further enhanced and made sustainable.

What are the next steps? What are the challenges?

The most critical next step is to finalise the NRP process in the remaining countries. The RPCA meeting conclusions urged all AGIR stakeholders to “renew their commitment to the Alliance, by: i) providing support to countries working towards the validation of their priorities; and ii) providing support and guidance to national and regional actors, to ensure an effective integration of the NRP-AGIR into the next generation of national agricultural investment plans.” It will also be important to capitalise on the three-year consultation process and identify best practices so that countries can learn from each other’s experiences, success stories and difficulties.

The few outstanding NRPs should not keep other countries from advancing. This is just the first step in a long-term dialogue process that must be pursued steadfastly if AGIR wishes to consolidate a multi-sectoral approach.

In terms of implementing the NRPs, the next step will be for countries to speed up the implementation of the identified resilience priority projects by allocating national budgets (if not already done) and mobilising their partners to cover financial gaps. Some AGIR pillars, in particular pillar 3 aimed at “sustainably improving agricultural and food production, the incomes of vulnerable households and their access to food”, could also potentially benefit from climate financing.

Lastly, AGIR needs to make further headway toward improving co-ordination and measuring impacts. It is currently impossible to get an overview of the many projects already being conducted on the ground in the region and even less to measure their impact. The RPCA has started working on resilience impact measures, and an interactive mapping tool to geo-localise the many resilience, food and nutrition initiatives is under way, with the support of the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat. This work will help monitor and evaluate the Alliance’s outcomes, as well as foster synergies and the convergence of resilience initiatives.

For many West African policy makers the resilience debate that gained international interest in 2012 was nothing new. They may not have had dedicated national resilience priorities, but resilience has always been a concern for West African governments and regional organisations.

The challenges remain enormous: whether there is a good or bad harvest, every year, the region must deal with at least 3 to 4 million chronically food insecure people. Malnutrition is a serious, permanent concern: one out of five children under five in the Sahel is undernourished. This year, almost 2 million children will be affected by the most severe form of acute malnutrition, if no appropriate measures are taken.

For those who are still sceptical and for whom resilience still sounds like a buzzword, we need to convince them that building resilience is not a passing fad but requires a very urgent, yet long-term commitment.

Entretien: Sahel, Plan d’action pour un engagement renouvelé 2015-2020

AFD-Sahel-coverEntretien avec M. Jean-Pierre Marcelli, Directeur du Département Afrique, Agence française de développement (AFD)

L’Agence française de développement (AFD) a élaboré un plan d’action pour opérationnaliser sa stratégie au Sahel pendant la période 2015-2020.1 À travers ce plan, elle développe des propositions pour une action plus lucide, plus ambitieuse et plus adaptée aux contextes sahéliens en pleine mutation. Dans une logique de stabilisation d’ensemble, le document détaille les domaines de priorité d’un engagement renouvelé avec six pays sahéliens : le Burkina Faso, la Mauritanie, le Mali, le Niger, le Sénégal et le Tchad. Il porte une attention particulière aux fragilités : une pauvreté enracinée, une population jeune en pleine expansion, avec peu d’accès à une éducation de qualité et à l’emploi. Trois priorités opérationnelles sont ainsi identifiées : 1) accroître l’activité économique et les opportunités d’emploi pour les jeunes ; 2 ) répondre aux défis démographiques au sens large ; et 3) contribuer à un développement territorial équilibré et à la sécurité alimentaire.

L’AFD est un bailleur historique avec une longue expérience au Sahel. Le Plan d’action 2015-2020 marque un «engagement renouvelé » de l’Agence. Il affiche la volonté de «faire mieux et différemment.» Pouvez-vous nous en dire plus sur le caractère innovant de la démarche ?

J-P.M: Cette  démarche  est  innovante  dans  le  sens  où  elle  a  souhaité  ne  pas  s’inscrire  dans  des approches déjà utilisées depuis plusieurs années par un simple effet de répétition, mais de partir d’un nouveau questionnement sur les enjeux liés à l’évolution extrêmement rapide du Sahel.

Vous semblez promouvoir la nécessité d’agir au niveau régional afin d’être mieux en phase avec la nature transfrontalière des enjeux sahéliens. Les agences de coopération ont souvent du mal à traduire ceci dans la réalité de leurs actions. Quelle est l’expérience de l’AFD ?

J-P.M: Il est vrai que les acteurs institutionnels ont, pour la plupart, une approche nationale. Pourtant, les dynamiques humaines, les bassins géographiques, les systèmes écologiques et les échanges économiques sont par nature transfrontaliers voire régionaux, et en particulier au Sahel. Ce grand espace qu’est le Sahel, bordé par le Maghreb au nord et les pays du Golfe de Guinée au sud, est beaucoup plus ouvert que d’autres géographies et nous impose de regarder au-delà des frontières si nous voulons répondre efficacement aux enjeux de développement. Trouver les moyens d’appréhender ces problématiques transfrontalières, de concert avec des acteurs nationaux et si possible régionaux, fait partie de la complexité à laquelle il nous faut répondre.

Un grand nombre de « Stratégies Sahel » a été développé par les différents acteurs actifs au Sahel. Est-ce une opportunité ou une contrainte ? Quelle est la valeur ajoutée de la stratégie de l’AFD ? Comment créer davantage des synergies avec les autres acteurs ?

J-P.M: Le grand nombre de stratégies Sahel qui a été développé ces dernières années reflète bien l’intérêt et les questionnements que suscite cette zone. Il pourrait être perçu comme une contrainte si nous tentions de vouloir en faire la synthèse ; synthèse qui risquerait d’aboutir à quelque chose de peu consistant, ou de trop global et donc n’apportant pas de valeur ajoutée par rapport à l’existant. Mais ce qu’il faut y voir,  c’est avant tout une opportunité de s’inspirer des analyses et des propositions, souvent très pertinentes et éclairées, des différents acteurs actifs au Sahel. Il faut donc utiliser cette matière déjà disponible pour en « faire notre miel » avec un souci de sélection, car nos propositions doivent pouvoir se caractériser et être articulées sur des impacts bien identifiés et mesurables.

Pour créer des synergies, il faut également savoir identifier dans chaque partenaire quelles sont ses forces, ses savoir-faire, sa valeur ajoutée, pour ne pas venir dupliquer des choses qui sont parfois bien faites par d’autres.

L’AFD souhaite « valoriser et produire de nouvelles connaissances sur le Sahel ». Comment mutualiser davantage les efforts dans ce domaine ?

J-P.M: Nous souhaitons effectivement faire un effort particulier de valorisation et de production de connaissances sur le Sahel et en priorité sur les problématiques relatives à l’éducation, la formation et l’emploi ; les dynamiques démographiques et migratoires ainsi qu’à l’enjeu des territoires.  L’important  pour  nous  sera  aussi  de  nourrir  nous-même  notre  action  et  notre réflexion sur ces sujets, tout en collaborant avec des organismes de recherche français et africains. Notre collaboration avec le CSAO sera à ce titre un bon moyen de mutualiser ces connaissances.

La quasi-totalité de la zone saharo-sahélienne est classée en zone orange ou rouge par le Ministère français des affaires étrangères. Du fait, beaucoup de zones sont aujourd’hui inaccessibles.  Comment  faire  votre  métier  de  « développeur  d’avenirs  durables »  dans ce contexte d’insécurité ?

J-P.M: Les questions de sécurité peuvent en effet gêner notre action et nous pouvons imaginer qu’une partie de cette insécurité vise parfois à perturber l’action du développement. S’il est nécessaire de prendre en compte ces questions sécuritaires, il faut néanmoins trouver les moyens de les surmonter, sans prise de risque inconsidérée. Nous pouvons pour cela nous appuyer davantage sur les acteurs locaux, sur ceux qui sont présents, ceux qui sont le mieux à l’écoute des besoins et qui sont les plus aptes à se positionner dans un territoire au plus proche des populations. Cela peut  être  des  organisations  de  la  société  civile,  mais  aussi  des  collectivités  locales,  des entreprises, etc.

Certains chercheurs pensent qu’au-delà du soutien logistique et en matière de formation, les gouvernements européens devraient assumer une partie des coûts des armées sahéliennes afin de stabiliser la zone et empêcher ainsi l’effondrement des efforts de développement dans la région. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

J-P.M: La sécurité est une condition très importante et c’est d’ailleurs probablement souvent l’une des aspirations premières des populations. Elle doit donc faire partie des fondamentaux à établir pour permettre une relance des processus de développement et rétablir la cohésion sociale de certains pays. Un effort sur les questions de sécurité, le plus possible porté par les pays africains, comme c’est de plus en plus souvent le cas, fait également partie des conditions nécessaires à un développement équilibré et apaisé.

L’Alliance globale pour la résilience (AGIR) vise à s’attaquer aux causes profondes de l’insécurité alimentaire chronique qui reste un défi majeur au Sahel. Elle est un cadre favorisant plus de synergie, de cohérence et d’efficacité au service des initiatives de résilience dans les 17 pays ouest-africains et sahéliens. Comment l’action de l’AFD s’inscrit-elle dans le cadre de l’Alliance ?

J-P.M: Dans ce domaine, l’action de l’AFD s’inscrit, et continuera à s’inscrire, en bonne cohérence avec l’initiative AGIR, dont il faut encourager l’approche multisectorielle et pluri acteurs. Lutter contre l’insécurité alimentaire fait partie des priorités resserrées que nous avons retenues dans le cadre de notre Plan d’action Sahel. Il faut en effet assurer la sécurité alimentaire maintenant et surtout demain, en renforçant les capacités de production vivrière ainsi que de circulation et commercialisation dans les pays sahéliens, et cela avant que de nouvelles crises surviennent. Un autre élément très important qui va au-delà de la sécurité alimentaire, c’est la nécessité de créer des  emplois.  En  effet,  dans  un  contexte  de  dynamique  démographique  exceptionnelle,  la création d’emplois et d’activités génératrices de revenus est essentielle pour offrir un devenir à cette jeunesse qui arrive chaque année plus nombreuse sur le marché de l’emploi. À ce titre, le Sahel a des avantages comparatifs à faire valoir, notamment dans les secteurs agricole et de l’élevage, en tant que principaux secteurs pourvoyeurs de revenus et d’emplois, mais avec des besoins importants à la fois de modernisation et de durabilité des systèmes suffisamment écologiques pour être pérennes.

En quelques mots, quelle est votre vision du Sahel à l’horizon 2020?

J-P.M:  Ma vision du Sahel dans 5 ans c’est un Sahel plus peuplé, toujours extrêmement jeune, donc avec un besoin d’activités économiques considérable. Il s’agira probablement aussi d’une région où la croissance des villes restera très forte tandis que les campagnes se rempliront. J’espère que nous verrons un Sahel avec un secteur agricole et d’élevage renforcé et stabilisé, une gestion durable des ressources naturelles, des services de base au niveau et davantage de moyens de communication. J’espère que le Sahel aura maintenu ou retrouvé ses équilibres politiques, retrouvé les ferments d’une cohésion nationale, indispensable pour le retour de la stabilité, avec davantage d’échanges entre les parties nord et sud des pays, mais également entre les pays, pour accélérer des dynamiques économiques indispensables à la satisfaction des attentes des populations en matière d’emploi et plus généralement de conditions de vie décentes.

1 http://www.afd.fr/webdav/site/afd/shared/L_AFD/L_AFD_s_engage/documents/Plan_action_Sahel.pdf

 

Climate change: Effective mitigation and adaptation efforts could reduce food insecurity

In this guest contribution to the SWAC blog, Kirsty Lewis of the UK Met Office Hadley Centre explores the relationship between climate change and food insecurity in developing and least developed countries. The research projections paint both stark and cautiously optimistic pictures. Failure to adapt to and mitigate climate change will drastically increase food insecurity, however; successful adaptation and mitigation efforts could actually reduce vulnerability. What do the results of this research mean for West Africa? What are the region’s priorities for decreasing vulnerability to food insecurity in the face of climate change?

While it is well-understood that climate change will mean increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events around the world, and that we are already seeing this trend in our observations of climate, what this trend will mean in detail is harder to evaluate. Increasing floods, droughts and storms pose a threat to the stability of food production, and therefore food security, in global terms, but to respond to this threat we need evidence on the scale and geography of the threat, as well as the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation action to tackle it.

Climate and food insecurity index

Scientists from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre have been working closely with the World Food Programme over the last five years on the challenge of incorporating our climate science knowledge with food security expertise. Together we have developed an index of vulnerability of countries to food insecurity, as a result of flood and drought events, for developing and least-developed countries. The approach we took considered the IPCC1 definition of vulnerability as a combination of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. For each of these terms we included measures of food system function that correlated with undernourishment. For the exposure component, for example, this was a measure of the number of floods and droughts that occurred over agricultural production regions and populated areas, within each country. The sensitivity component included measures of how resilient agricultural production is to adverse weather events. This included metrics such as the percentage of rain-fed agriculture. Finally the adaptive capacity component included measures of economic resilience, such as the percentage of the population below the poverty line, or structural resilience, such as the percentage of paved roads. In this way the index included, not just the impact of weather on production, but also on access to food through markets.

The index values were normalised, and so are a relative, rather than absolute, measure of vulnerability to food insecurity. The results of this index in the present day climate are shown in the figure below.

Food insecurity and climate change vulnerability index: Present day climate

26_present_day_SphereKEY_Social_Media_AW

Source: UK Met Office Hadley Centre

The highest levels of vulnerability are in sub-Saharan Africa; there are medium levels across much of Asia, and lower levels in South and Central America. This pattern of vulnerability corresponds to global levels of undernourishment, as the index was designed to do. However, the index was also designed so that the exposure component could include not just observed drought and flood events, but also climate model projections based on RCP scenarios.2

Adaptation scenarios

In addition we developed adaptation scenarios, which effectively alter the remaining two components of the index: sensitivity and adaptive capacity. We defined a ‘high adaptation’ scenario where both the sensitivity of agricultural production and the economic resilience were improved by around 10-15% in the 2050s, and a further 10-15% in the 2080s. In this scenario the change was not applied equally to all countries, allowing the most vulnerable countries to improve more rapidly than the least vulnerable. A second ‘low adaptation’ scenario was also created, with improvements of around 5-10% per time period to the non-climate aspects of the index.

While using the climate model projections under the RCP scenarios was a straightforward choice, selecting adaptation scenarios was a lot more difficult. The chosen high and low adaptation scenarios are representative of plausible levels of adaption, but of course these are not a forecast of future behaviour.

The resulting index projections under the different climate change and adaptation scenarios provide some interesting and informative insights into both the geography of climate change impacts on food security and the relative importance of adaptation and mitigation to address these impacts.

Mitigation, no adaptation scenario

If we assume no adaptation action is taken, i.e. we just consider the impact of climate change, we see that vulnerability to food insecurity increases by the 2050s globally, regardless of which mitigation scenario is followed.

For example, under a scenario of rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, known as RCP 2.6, (which is also consistent with a global average temperature rise of around 2°C) the level of increase of vulnerability to food insecurity is less than for the scenario of considerable future increasing emissions, known as RCP 8.5 (which is consistent with an end of the century global average temperature rise of 4°C or more). Nevertheless, both scenarios result in deteriorating food security conditions. This is because ‘inertia in the climate system’ (a delayed response of warming from previous emissions) means that we are committed to some level of climate change in the next few decades. Beyond the 2050s the two scenarios diverge. Under the RCP2.6 scenario, the rate of climate change levels off, and vulnerability to food insecurity stabilises. It is still worse than the present day, but no worse than the 2050s.

No mitigation, no adaptation scenario

Under the RCP8.5 scenario however, the levels of vulnerability to food insecurity increase considerably. This scenario of no action on either mitigation or adaptation is the worst case future, and the consequences for food insecurity are severe.

However, a scenario where no adaptation takes place is unlikely to be realistic, so we can compare these outcomes with an alternative ‘high adaptation’ scenario. In this case we see that adaptation makes a difference in reducing vulnerability to food insecurity at all timescales and with or without mitigation.

No mitigation, adaptation scenario

For example, under the RCP8.5 climate change scenario, adaptation almost keeps pace with climate change out to the 2050s, meaning that vulnerability to food insecurity remains at levels comparable, although a little worse, than the present day. After the 2050s though, the rate of climate change increases and outpaces adaptation efforts. In this scenario the 2080s are not as bad as they would be without adaption, but still worse than the present day.

Mitigation, adaptation scenario

There is one scenario where the future vulnerability to food insecurity is lower than the present day. This is the scenario where there are rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (RCP2.6), and high levels of adaptation. In this scenario adaptation keeps pace with climate change to the 2050s, and beyond this timeframe, as the climate stabilises, continued adaptation leads to reductions in vulnerability and an improving food security outlook.

Key implications

The messages from this research are clear. If we take no action to tackle climate change, the consequences for food insecurity in developing and least developed countries are severe. However, by both adapting and mitigating we can tackle climate change in a way that has positive consequences for future food insecurity.

The aim of the research that we conducted was to put information and evidence about the impacts of climate change and the effects of mitigation and adaptation efforts into the public domain. We created an interactive website to show these results, and so you can see for yourself how climate change and vulnerability to food insecurity interact.

Kirsty Lewis is Climate Security Science Manager with the Met Office Hadley Centre.

1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Definition of ‘key vulnerability’: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch19s19-1-2.html. 

2 Representative Concentration Pathways are used for climate modelling and research. They describe four possible climate futures, all of which are considered possible depending on how much greenhouse gases are emitted in the years to come, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_Concentration_Pathways.

Urbanisation, structural change and the food system: The crucial role of rural-urban linkages

By Cecilia Tacoli,  International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Both urban and rural areas in West Africa are undergoing considerable transformation. As an ever greater proportion of the region’s population live – and will live – in urban centres, how can policies help ensure that rural residents are not ‘left behind’, and at the same time food production satisfies the needs of the growing urban population?

One theme of growing interest for policy makers is the potential role of rural-urban linkages in supporting inclusive and sustainable development that benefits both rural and urban people and enterprises. But what exactly do we mean by rural-urban linkages? Continue reading

World Food Day 2015: Building Resilient Societies and Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty in the Sahel and West Africa Region

By Ousman Tall, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) Secretariat

The official programme marking World Food Day takes place today at the Universal Exposition in Milan, under the theme, “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”. This theme underscores the role of social protection in ensuring that food and other basic needs of the most vulnerable individuals and households are addressed. Furthermore, embedded in this theme is the assertion that social protection programmes tied to productive activities, such as agriculture, are the most sustainable approach to eradicating poverty and achieving food and nutrition security. This has considerable implications for Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is pervasive in rural areas.

Sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Sahel and West Africa region, is one of the poorest and most food-insecure regions in the world. Out of the 25 poorest countries in the world, 23 are in Sub-Saharan Africa with 11 of them in the Sahel and West Africa Region. It has the world’s fastest growing population, where 65% of countries are classified as low-income countries and over half of the population is living below the poverty line.[1] To address the high levels of food insecurity and poverty, a number of social protection initiatives have been put in place, including national social protection strategies in some countries. In 2014, the European Union alone assisted 1.7 million food-insecure people and 580 000 malnourished children in the Sahel.[2] This has provided a strong argument and a basis for a pro-smallholder agricultural intervention in rural areas in the Sahel and West Africa region.

Most Recent Food Insecurity Situations in the Sahel and West Africa Region

food-insecurity-sahel-west-africa© Map produced by CILSS/Agrhymet. Source: Regional analysis of the Cadré harmonisé (CH), Bamako, 22-23 June 2015.

Linking social protection programmes with economic activities, productivity, ownership and long-term sustainability is important. Tackling risk and vulnerability and at the same time ensuring pro-poor growth through investments in social protection programmes lead to greater inclusive growth.[3] These should be the guiding principles in the design and implementation of social protection programmes. However, most social protection initiatives and interventions in the region are project-oriented, mainly addressing poverty and food insecurity during times of crisis. With the persistent nature and recurrence of crises in the region, there is a need to go beyond interventions during crises, to build the resilience of the most vulnerable populations in adapting – in a sustainable manner – to these emerging and recurrent crises. Read more

The full post is available on the OECD Insights blog

[1] Food security in focus: Sub-Saharan Africa 2014. The Economist Intelligence Unit 2014

[2] ECHO Factsheet – Sahel: Food & Nutrition Crisis – May 2015

[3] Promoting Pro-Poor Growth: Social Protection-OECD 2009