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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid