FOOD SECURITY CAN HELP PREVENT CONFLICTS IN AFRICA: OFFICIALS

The UN food agency, on Saturday, called on African nations to prioritise food security, which it said, has an important role to play, in preventing conflicts and crises on the African continent.

Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, said, the impact of agriculture has proven to be an engine for post crisis recovery, in a number of countries in the world.

"We need to focus our attention towards supporting agriculture and rural development, as this helps create jobs, provide income and boost youth employment," he said early this week, during a meeting on food security and peace building in Africa.

Da Silva noted that, the approach has proven successful in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as it has prevented distress migration and radicalisation, as well as, mitigate disputes over depleted resources.

The link between conflict prevention and development is of particular importance in the region, which is host to nearly 60 percent of active UN Peacekeeping Missions.

And whilst armed conflicts across Africa as a whole, have decreased in recent years, this trend has been uneven across the continent.

In the DRC, FAO has worked with partners on the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants, by providing them with the agricultural skills, knowledge and supplies -- an approach proven to lower the risk of ex-combatants rejoining militias, once they are empowered with access to food and income-generating activities.

Da Silva called for the adoption of this strategy in other post-conflict situations, by providing secure and resilient conditions that meet the needs of rural people, in terms of nutrition and livelihoods.

Somalia Deputy Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Abdullahi Ali, revealed that, 40 percent of the country's population currently live on one meal a day, due to insecurity.

He said, the worst affected are the 10 percent of the population that live in the internally displaced camps.

"We are launching a development plan before the end of the year, that will set a road map towards ensuring food security in the country," he said.

"Despite the current situation, we have developed workable strategies that have put agriculture, fisheries and tourism in the front line," he added.

The Director of IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development, Solomon Munyua, observed that, so long as one member of IGAD is unstable, the region will never be peaceful.

Munyua called for the solution to root cause of conflicts by improving social livelihoods and building cohesion amongst the communities.

"The eight member IGAD countries need a solution to unemployment amongst the youth, to discourage them from joining militia groups," he said.

FAO and partners are working in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, to support the peaceful use of natural resources and prevent the spread of trans-boundary livestock diseases. They are also working in the Sahel region, supporting pastoralism and empowering.

Leaders in Central African Republic (CAR) are also resorting to putting agriculture at the centre of the country's recovery by providing food security and jobs for rural youth.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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