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IFAD Calls for Investment in East Africa to Avert Food Crisis

July 7th, 2011

An article posted on IFAD’s website on the urgency of investments in agriculture to increase production

The East African region has been facing the more and more threatening change of climate. Flash floods and unceasing, persistent droughts are putting the lives of ten million people in serious danger. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is focusing on that region, working closely with smallholder farmers and trying to help them cope with climate change.

Rains are unpredictable, crops don’t have enough water to grow, food prices are high and they are getting higher and higher because of poor harvest: in Uganda, for example, prices are now up to 125% higher than the year before, which makes it impossible, with an income of only $ 1.25 a day, to buy food.  In that region, 237 million people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture, but erosion and leaching are destroying soils, causing a constantly higher number of hunger and malnutrition-related deaths.

Geoffrey Livingston, Regional Economist for East and Southern Africa at IFAD, said: “We need to act now and step up investment in agriculture and smallholder farmers if we want to prevent a major food crisis.”

IFAD’s programmes in the region is Natural Resource Management, including reforestation, erosion control, integrated soil fertility management, pasture lands development, and expanding access to water such as rainwater harvesting. In Ethiopia, for example, IFAD’s Pastoral Community Development Project, which is co-funded by the World Bank, has hugely and rapidly helped alleviating the impact of droughts on pastoral communities.

“It was recently reported that 3.2 million Ethiopians depend on food aid. We need to enable them to rely on sustainable agriculture and smallholder farming to feed themselves and their communities”.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, the president of IFAD, earlier appealed for collective action in order to avoid a food crisis like this one: “If words and good intentions could feed people, there would be no hungry children in the world today. But as those of us working in development know all too well, malnutrition, hunger and poverty are bound tightly together in a Gordian knot that requires collective action to cut.”

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