News / Africa

FAO says Africa Drought Relief Should Plan for Long Term

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf (file photo)
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf (file photo)

The response to the drought and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa should include steps to prevent the humanitarian disaster from happening again. That is according to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO is hosting a meeting of officials and experts in Rome Thursday to identify areas of need and plan responses.

The United Nations is seeking about $2 billion in humanitarian relief for drought-stricken countries in the Horn of Africa. The short-term needs are for food and medicine - both for people, and the surviving livestock herders depend on for their livelihoods.

But in the long term, says FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, the fundamental issue is water. "Unless we control water in that region, we're bound to have similar situations, particularly in the face of climate change," said Diouf.

Diouf says only about one percent of the farmable land in the region is irrigated, compared to about four percent in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, and nearly forty percent in Asia.

Improving access to water for the region's livestock herders is another key goal.

Farmers also need fertilizer, better seeds and a way to store their crops in order to be more productive, and better access to markets to achieve financial security.

The needs are substantial. But Diouf says the Rome meeting is building on a solid foundation of previous work.

"We have the programmatic tools," he said. "We have the strategies. We have the projects. We have costed them. We have evaluated them. Some governments have started within their limited means to take action. And because they have taken action, they are better prepared now than they were before. But it's still not enough. We need to invest more."

That demand is directed, in part, to African governments. Most have pledged to commit 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture, but fewer than a dozen have followed through.

Diouf says international donors need to do more, too. He notes that in 2000, a UN task force drew up a long-term strategy to end hunger in the Horn of Africa.

"Unfortunately, the follow-up action to mobilize the resources did not result in concrete action, and here we are again," said Diouf.

The problems go beyond natural and financial resources, however. The FAO chief acknowledges that civil conflicts have hampered development efforts in the region as well.

"Well, first, naturally, we have to do it where there is no civil war, as is the case in Somalia," he said.

The Rome conference will not end the civil war. But Diouf notes there are eight countries in the region threatened with chronic food insecurity. Investments now, he says, can help prevent another crisis later.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid