A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
(Dakar, Senegal) From June 20 to 27, 2014, the African Union's Heads of State will meet in Malabo to discuss agriculture and food security in Africa. This pre-African Union summit will be an opportunity to review progress on the Maputo Declaration.
Ten years after the 2003 Maputo summit on Agriculture and Food Security, where African Heads of State agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture, only eight countries have continuously met the Maputo target (Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Senegal, Mali and Ghana in West Africa).
On the eve of the Malabo meeting, a petition signed by more than 2 million African citizens has called on the African Union, to "Invest in our farmers, our food and our futures". West African artists have also joined their voices to celebrate farmers and have composed a hymn for the International Year of Family Farming. They also remind the Heads of State of their pledges and the need to take action. According to the international artist Baaba Maal, "By making our agriculture more productive, we will be able to avoid severe food crises such as the one that hit the Sahel in 2012."
In Africa, more than 223 million people suffer from hunger while producers claim they can feed the continent if the Maputo commitments were secured. In countries such as Burkina Faso, 92 percent of the population are active in farming and agriculture makes up 34% of the country's GDP, according to a recent survey carried out by ONE. A massive and qualitative investment in agriculture in Africa is 11 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors and would lead, accordingly, to a sustainable change in the life of millions of Africans (FAO).
"For a successful agriculture industry, substantial investments are required using transparent budgeting processes. Governments which have not yet reached the 10 percent threshold must do so as quickly as possible. All countries should prioritize mechanisms to mobilize domestic resources in favour of agriculture," says Mohamed Lamine Ndiaye, Pan-Africa Head of Oxfam's GROW campaign.
Farmers' organizations and civil society organizations at the regional and Pan-African level have issued 10 recommendations for new policy commitments at the June African Union Summit, in order to achieve food security in Africa. These recommendations came out of a thorough analysis of the challenges and potential of African agriculture. Heads of State must address them in Malabo and show leadership in their implementation.
“The African Union has declared 2014 as the year of agriculture and food security, sending a strong message. In Malabo, we must move from rhetoric to action to ensure enough food for present and future generations,” added the Permanent Secretary of the Bilital Maroobé Network.
Malabo 2014 must be the meeting point between engagement and action, in order to fulfil the conditions necessary for a sound African agriculture capable of feeding Africans. From the Malabo Summit, African civil society expects a new policy commitment of African States valuing family farming through quantitative and qualitative investments. Civil society organizations pledge to remain mobilized and vigilant to make sure those commitments are fulfilled.
Notes to editors
Oxfam's GROW campaign helps people to participate in the global management of land, water and the climate so they can grow and buy food sustainably. Women's rights and gender equality are at the heart of the campaign. Partner organizations in the GROW campaign in West Africa are: Billital Marobe, Poscao, IPAR, RACAO, APESS, WILDAF and OXFAM.
GROW is in partnership with the World Rural Forum, as part of the International Year of Family Farming for which a hymn from the campaign is offered to the farmers of the world.