WHD 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Building communities in the Sahel that can weather shocks


By the Food and Agriculture Organization

The time has come to break the "vicious circle" of crises in Africa's Sahel by proactively building up the ability of pastoralist and rural communities to weather drought and other shocks, rather than merely helping them recover from disaster after the fact.
"We cannot prevent droughts or floods, but we can put in place measures that will help stop them from turning into famine," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today told participants at a high-level event here in the Mauritanian capital.
The Nouakchott event, focused on the needs of pastoral communities, is the first of two back-to-back high-level meetings on boosting rural resilience in the Sahel organized by the World Bank, the Comité permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS) and the governments of Mauritania and Senegal. The second, looking at irrigation needs in the region, takes place in Dakar, Senegal on October 30 and 31st.

A way of life at risk

Poor weather and high food prices have in recent years sparked recurring food and nutrition crises in the Sahel, leaving many rural families in precarious circumstances and on a vulnerable footing.
Among those most affected are the region's estimated 16 million pastoralists — livestock-reliant people who regularly move their families and animals in search of water and pasture.
While pastoralism has long offered a way for these communities to cope with bad weather and a lack of productive land, their vulnerability to drought, flooding, and other disasters has been on the rise due to increasing competition for access to water and grazing lands.
 And the Sahel is, and will likely continue to be, one of the world regions most affected by climate change, meaning that drought and other weather extremes will increase the pressures being brought to bear on pastoralists.

"Resilience works"

Often, when a crisis hits, the animals upon which pastoral families depend for food and income — as well as capital reserves — die in large numbers or are sold off to meet immediate needs. Selling animals might give temporary relief, but it also means the loss of a household's only productive assets, leaving them even more vulnerable to future calamities.
"This is a vicious circle that we need to break," Graziano da Silva said during a keynote address at the start of the Nouakchott meeting. "The only way to end recurrent emergencies in the region is to change from a reactive to a proactive and integrated approach, focusing on resilient livelihoods," he added.
The evidence shows that resilience works and is proving effective at saving not only lives and livelihoods but also money, the UN food chief argued. For example, in 2003-2004, the cost of reacting to and suppressing a locust plague in the Sahel added up to $500 million.
Last year, a similar crisis was avoided via the timely investment of $8 million that prevent a new outbreak from occurring, Graziano da Silva pointed out. Similarly, studies show that supplementary feeding of livestock before crisis hits — thereby preventing animals from dying out during drought, disease outbreaks, or other shocks — is 16 times less expensive than buying new animals after mass-die offs.
"At FAO, we are convinced that resilience is key to food security and are raising its prominence in our work," Graziano da Silva said. Increasing the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises is one of five new strategic objectives recently established by FAO to focus and guide its work.

Building on what works

Graziano da Silva highlighted a number of areas where more focused action can help improve the resilience of the Sahel's pastoralist communities, including:
  • Using mobile technology to improve communities' access to weather forecasts and information on vegetation cover, so they can take their animals to where there is forage.
  • Scaling up cash for work opportunities that improve rural infrastructure while offering social safety nets.
  • Ensuring not only that early warning and response mechanisms are in place, but that they are triggering early reactions.
  • Providing various forms of direct support to pastoralists, especially in the area of animal health.
  • Supporting the diversification of livelihoods and accumulation of assets by pastoralists.
All such efforts will require a joint effort by local communities, governments and the development community, concluded Graziano da Silva.
"To build resilience, we cannot work alone. We need to work in partnership," he said.

For more go to www.fao.org
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Monday, October 28, 2013

More Irrigation and Pastoralism Could Transform Africa's Sahel Region

By Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa at the World Bank

The Sahel region, a vast arid stretch of land linking six countries in West Africa -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal -- is home to some of the most productive pastoralist communities in the world.And yet, assailed by a host of climatic, political and development challenges, their pastoralist way of life is under threat.
Here, over centuries, some 16 million pastoralists have perfected the art of survival in the Sahel, raising sheep and livestock in some of the most harsh and unforgiving environments anywhere on the planet. Meat yields fromthe Sahel rival those from some of the best ranches in Australia and the United States. Currently, half of the meat and two-thirds of the milk produced and consumed in the countries of West Africa originates in the Sahel.
However pastoralism is facing multiple threats. These include rapid population growth, conflict, volatile food prices, animal diseases, and shrinking grazing areas and water resources. Combined, these factors are steadily jeopardizing the survival of the pastoralists of the Sahel.
Climate change is expected to hit Africa hardest. It is increasingly likely that scientific warnings that the world could warm by 2°C in the next 20 or 30 years will come true. In such a case, pastoralism will be imperiled. The effects on the African continent will be dramatically more devastating under a warming scenario of 4°C.
Desert and aridity define the Sahel, yet its vast water resources are untapped. In a region where farming is the predominant economic activity, sadly, only 20 percent of the Sahel's irrigation potential has been developed. Worse still, one quarter of the area equipped with irrigation liesin a state of disrepair.
Pastoralism matters for Africa's future particularly in the Sahel. So does irrigation. Both affect farming, the dominant industry in the region,which accounts for one-third and more of all economic output in the Sahel. This in turn empowers the women of the Sahel, as women account for the majority of Africa's farmers.
Supporting pastoralism with more climate smart-policies; reducing vulnerability to drought, flooding and other disasters; and raising more healthy livestock through timely vaccines, are all necessary to help communities adapt to the ecological harshness of the Sahel.
Bringing more water to parched lands in the Sahel will not only improve food production but place more food on family dinner tables, allow farmers to move from subsistence farming into growing and selling greater quantities of food crops for higher earnings in local and regional markets. Climate-smart agriculture can increase yields, put more money in farmers' pockets and help protect biodiversity, improve soil fertility, and conserve the environment.
At a time when the global economy is slowly recovering, we want to prime the engines of growth that really matter.
The World Bank is hosting two major summits in Mauritania and Senegal focused on threats and opportunities for pastoralism and irrigation to thrive in Africa.
I am confident that in Nouakchott and Dakar, we will mobilize new coalitions of countries, development partners, business leaders, and the communities themselves for a new push to transform agriculture with more domestic, regional and international support for pastoralism and irrigation.
It can be done.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adolescent Girls Struggle in Northern Mali

By Plan International 

Adolescent girls were extremely vulnerable during the 10-month occupation of Northern Mali by armed militias in 2012, but they have also been overlooked in the aftermath. Plan International has begun working with the victims of this conflict but, after speaking with many adolescent girls in Northern Mali, it is clear that more must be done.

Plan is calling for governments and humanitarian actors to recognize and address the specific needs of adolescents' girls before, during and after disasters.

For more go to http://plan-international.org

Monday, October 14, 2013

Robert Piper: Une nouvelle approche pour le Sahel

Le plus haut Responsable Humanitaire dans le Sahel déclare que les gouvernements, les donateurs et les organisations humanitaires ont besoin de changer leur manière de soutenir les personnes les plus vulnérables du monde.

Pour plus d'informations sur le Sahel visitez : http://www.unocha.org/crisis/sahel
Suivez  Rober Piper sur Twitter

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Flooding in the Sahel leaves thousands of families facing uncertain futures

By Moustapha, IFRC

Armed with a single bucket, Amy Gueye tries to scoop out the waters that have overtaken her completely flooded home. Like many others in Wakhinane Nimzatt, in the suburbs of Dakar, the Senegalese capital, she had hoped for a lull in the rain to get rid of the water. But her efforts come to nothing as, unusually, persistent and recurrent rains continue to deluge her neighbourhood and many regions across the Sahel, causing huge losses for thousands of families. Resigned and powerless, Gueye thinks for the first time about ​​leaving the house in which she was born. "It is very difficult to live with all the water. I am completely exhausted and I lost almost all my possessions," she says.
Heavy rains inundated neighborhoods in and just outside of Dakar, September 2013. Moustapha Diallo/IFRC

Since August, severe floods have been reported in many countries across the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. According to assessments conducted by authorities and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, more than 300,000 people have been affected. Houses, roads, public infrastructure, food reserves and crops have all been lost. As flooding continues, fears are growing about the impact on the upcoming harvest, particularly in Niger where thousands of hectares of farmland have been swept away.
“The damage to crops and the widespread destruction of grain stores in Niger have left many communities facing an uncertain future,” says Naziha Moussaoui, food security delegate at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Dakar. The situation is considered just as serious in many other countries even though the extent of damage varies from one region to another. “An estimated 11.3 million people remain severely food insecure across the Sahel and what is extremely worrisome is that some regions in some countries hardest hit by the flooding are those which were also affected by the food crisis in 2012,” says Moussaoui. “We are extremely concerned about what could be a long period of food insecurity for some vulnerable families.”
Health is also a major concern in the countries hit by the flooding. Many people are living in flooded houses in stifling heat and terrible sanitary conditions, exposed to the risks posed by waterborne diseases. The situation is particularly serious in Dakar where, in addition to flooding, people are ironically facing a dire water shortage. A broken pipeline has left 40 per cent of the population – an estimated 3 million people – searching for clean water to drink. Two weeks after the pipeline burst, many residents are resorting to using water from wells or backwater, increasing the risk of further disease outbreaks.
“Tap water no longer flows in our neighbourhood and we don’t have money to pay 2 US dollars just for 10 litres of drinkable water. It will be not enough for the entire family, that’s why we collect water from the backwater. We know it is not safe, but we don’t have any other choice,” says Gueye.

For more go to www.ifrc.org
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