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Follow-up Meeting on the Horn of Africa Crisis Calls for Tackling the Root Causes of the Crisis

18 August 2011: The follow-up meeting for the Horn of Africa Crisis, hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), concluded with a call for a “twin track” approach to the crisis that will meet the relief needs as well as address the root causes of the crisis and strengthen the local population's resilience for possible future crises.

The international community was additionally urged to continue their support for operations in the region as food producers and herders are in need of immediate assistance.

Attended by agricultural ministers from the Horn of Africa region, FAO member countries, the African Union (AU), France, in its capacity as President of the G20, and other international and civil society organizations, the follow-up meeting was called to take stock of the current situation and deliberate on the root causes of the crisis. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf underscored the presence of funding gaps and called for immediate action to develop comprehensive, government-endorsed investment plans to avoid future famines.

On behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Gwi-Yeop Son, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said US$1.16 billion in aid relief is needed to support national responses to the crisis. He called for climate-smart crop production, livestock rearing, fish farming and forest maintenance practices to ensure food security. He further stressed the importance of alignment and coordination of local, national and regional plans, noting the role of the High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security and other coordination mechanisms to this end.

Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, AU, underlined that the crisis highlights the vulnerability of livelihoods in Africa. World Food Programme (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu called for political will and international commitment to increase resilience in region.

The meeting called for a number of immediate term measures including: ensuring that lifesaving food assistance needs are met and nutrition support is scaled up; saving surviving livestock; saving the forthcoming planting season to ensure that farmers have access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and irrigation; and expanding cash-for-work programmes to allow people to buy food and prevent the sale of assets.

The meeting suggested that root causes should be addressed through measures including: protecting and restoring degraded land resources; improving water management and expanding irrigation; improving animal, plant and range management practices of small scale farmers to make them less vulnerable to hazards and climate variability; strengthening community-based animal health services; and identifying viable and acceptable alternatives to pastoral livelihoods.

The meeting additionally pledged its support for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and its work for increasing investment in livelihood resilience. [FAO Press Release] [IFAD Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement]