Four ways to end hunger in Africa

Lesotho Times - - Leader - An­nan is the Chair of the Kofi An­nan Foun­da­tion. He was Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral of the United Na­tions for 1997 to 2006” Kofi An­nan

FOR the first time in hu­man his­tory, the end of hunger is well within our reach. While coura­geous and pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­u­als have been work­ing to end this scourge for decades, a re­cent con­flu­ence of po­lit­i­cal will, pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ships and fund­ing has made this am­bi­tion pos­si­ble.

We have, of course, a long way to go. Al­most 800 mil­lion men, women and chil­dren will not have enough food to eat to­day. But the achieve­ment of halv­ing the pro­por­tion of mal­nour­ished peo­ple since 1990 has shown us just what can be achieved.

Look, for ex­am­ple, at Africa. Twelve years ago, when I was UN Sec­re­tary-gen­eral, I called for a “uniquely African Green Revo­lu­tion” to trans­form agri­cul­ture and the life chances of hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple on the con­ti­nent. Progress has been re­mark­able.

For over a decade, African coun­tries have put a much greater em­pha­sis on in­vest­ment in agri­cul­ture and sup­port­ing the con­ti­nent’s farm­ers.

The Com­pre­hen­sive Africa Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram (CAADP), launched by African lead­ers in 2003 and re­it­er­ated in the Mal­abo Dec­la­ra­tion of June 2014, pro­vides a clear frame­work to ac­cel­er­ate in­vest­ment and co­or­di­nate coun­tries’ ef­forts.

In­ter­na­tional donors have thrown their weight be­hind these na­tional ef­forts. From a surge in donor in­vest­ment stem­ming from the 2009 G-8 Sum­mit in L’aquila, Italy, to the agree­ment by the global com­mu­nity to pri­or­i­tize hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion in last year’s Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals, the tide is turn­ing.

With the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion and Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, the Al­liance for a Green Revo­lu­tion in Africa (AGRA) was cre­ated in 2006. In just a short pe­riod of time, it has be­come a pre­em­i­nent leader in trans­form­ing Africa’s agri­cul­ture and food sys­tems.

Thanks to the part­ner­ships it has formed, the re­search and de­vel­op­ment it has sup­ported and the ini­tia­tives on the ground it has launched, small­holder farm­ers have ob­tained ac­cess to bet­ter seeds, sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural tech­niques and fi­nanc­ing, while thou­sands of agri-busi­nesses have been cre­ated and ex- panded.

The last few weeks have given more rea­son to cel­e­brate. In a rare show of bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion, the United States Congress in July passed the Global Food Se­cu­rity Act.

This sig­nif­i­cant leg­is­la­tion reaf­firms the United States’ com­mit­ment to end­ing global hunger, poverty and child mal­nu­tri­tion through Pres­i­dent Obama’s Feed the Fu­ture Ini­tia­tive by sup­port­ing devel­op­ing coun­tries to im­prove their agri­cul­ture and broaden food sys­tems. It is hoped that the pass­ing of the Act en­cour­ages other tra­di­tional donor coun­tries to take sim­i­lar ac­tions.

This lat­est good news comes as African heads of state, in­ter­na­tional donors and hunger ad­vo­cates from around the world gather in Nairobi, Kenya, for the African Green Revo­lu­tion Fo­rum. It is an op­por­tu­nity not only to cel­e­brate col­lec­tive progress but also to com­mit our­selves to step up the bat­tle against hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion.

We must seize on this crit­i­cal mo­ment and build on the in­cred­i­ble progress that’s been made in re­cent years. We all gain if we get this right. In­creas­ing food se­cu­rity not only lifts the shadow of hunger from hun­dreds of mil­lions of our fel­low hu­man be­ings. It also builds up economies and trade and min­i­mizes the risk of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity.

I be­lieve there are four main keys to tip­ping the scales and sen­tenc­ing global hunger to ex­tinc­tion.

Keep hunger on do­mes­tic and in­terna- tional agen­das

First is the con­tin­ued po­lit­i­cal will to keep this is­sue high on do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional agen­das, for no coun­try can be strong when its peo­ple are weak­ened by hunger. The role of civil so­ci­ety in con­stantly en­cour­ag­ing gov­ern­ments to make agri­cul­ture a pri­or­ity is vi­tal here as well.

Build ef­fec­tive part­ner­ships No sin­gle in­di­vid­ual, group or govern­ment can take on this mon­u­men­tal chal­lenge alone. We have seen over the last few years just how quick and sig­nif­i­cant progress can be when we have the vi­sion to work to­gether.

Help coun­tries be­come self-suffi

cient We must re­tain and strengthen coun­try own­er­ship. Devel­op­ing coun­tries — who suf­fer dis­pro­por­tion­ately from food in­se­cu­rity — must take the lead in defin­ing their own path to pros­per­ity.

Find more money Fi­nally, the recog­ni­tion of the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of fi­nanc­ing. The im­pres­sive progress so far will not be sus­tained and ac­cel­er­ated with­out new in­vest­ment from both the pri­vate sec­tor and devel­op­ing coun­tries them­selves, in ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional donors.

Devel­op­ing coun­try lead­ers, pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies, donors, NGOS and oth­ers now have the chance to achieve some­thing in­cred­i­ble within our life­times.

This week and into the fu­ture, I chal­lenge my col­leagues work­ing in global de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially heads of state and pri­vate sec­tor lead­ers, to pri­ori­tise this is­sue. Work­ing to­gether — across sec­tors and dis­ci­plines — we can make hunger his­tory.

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