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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs