News / Africa

West Africa Coordinating Agricultural Production to Improve Food Security

The Economic Community of West African States is working to better coordinate agricultural production to increase profits for farmers and distribute food to areas affected by drought.

West African leaders have a comprehensive agriculture development program to support private sector investment in family farms, make those goods more competitive on international markets, and better guarantee food security.

Sheila Sisulu, the deputy executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, believes that commitment by the regional alliance known as ECOWAS will succeed because it is led by member states, collaborates with development partners, and addresses all aspects of food security.

"They are taking the lead in determining and making sure that food security and agriculture are front and center of their priorities.  I think that is a great step forward," she said.

Sisulu says the alliance's Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program complements existing World Food Program projects, including its Purchase for Progress plan, which strengthens food security while guaranteeing prices for small farmers, most of whom are women in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone.

Sisulu says the United Nations can help ECOWAS determine how best to move food within the region from areas of surplus to areas of hunger.

"The other is of course our capacity to do vulnerability analysis and mapping and also early-warning systems, so that the governments are able, collectively through ECOWAS, to know where the crisis might hit, where the response might come from, and how to coordinate that so they prevent crises," she said.

This year, West Africa's biggest food crisis is in Niger, where 60 percent of the population are facing severe food shortages because of poor rains.  The World Food Program is targeting more than 1.5 million people for a general food distribution and as many as 500,000 children under the age of six for specialized therapeutic feeding.

Relief officials say feeding programs are now reaching most of the people at risk.  But there are not yet enough contributions from foreign donors to keep that going through the lean season between harvests.

"The international community has stepped up and the government in Niger has taken responsibility and is very, very responsive to the assistance they are being provided, that they have called for and they are getting.  However, from a WFP/PAM point of view, we still are short of resources.  And we hope, especially as we are really going into the lean season, going forward and heightened hunger, that we will be able to get the resources in," said Sisulu.

Across the Sahel, relief officials say ten million people could be affected by food shortages this year.  The U.N. says more than 850,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition, mostly in Niger and Chad.  Poor farmers in Niger, Chad, and northeastern Mali will likely need food assistance at least through the early harvests in August.

You May Like

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Election Campaigning Begins in Ivory Coast

No one expecting a repeat of 2009-2010 post-election conflict, but campaign getting off to tense start with only 4 of 10 candidates agreeing to sign code of good conduct More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs