Paving The Way Towards An African Renaissance

Published on 04 July 2013

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says that a "unified approach" addressing the linkages between issues like poverty and health is necessary to tackling hunger. Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud

Leaders from across Africa and the humanitarian world met in Addis Ababa this week to discuss a “unified approach” to ending hunger on the continent by 2025. WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, who attended the high-level meeting, says understanding the linkages between issues like hunger, health and poverty is crucial to finding a solution.

ADDIS ABABA—The fight against hunger has made important strides in recent years, particularly in Africa where high rates of malnutrition are still pervasive in many countries.

At a high-level meeting held in Addis Ababa, leaders from African countries and humanitarian organisations met to discuss how winning strategies that empower farmers and provide nutrition to mothers and children could be expanded in Africa to eliminate hunger on the continent by 2025. WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin attended the event and told us about some of the key themes that were addressed.

Towards an African Renaissance

The High-Level Meeting “Towards African Renaissance: Renewed Partnership for a Unified approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025” was held this week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The event was jointly convened by the African Union the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Lula Institute. Find out more

This meeting is focusing on what works in combatting hunger in Africa. Why is a unified approach so crucial?  We must recognise that hunger and food security  have many dimensions. To tackle them we need political will, strong diversified partnerships and a broad approach that recognises the deep link between the issues of hunger, health, poverty and development.

The recently-released Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study, led by the African Union Commission and supported by WFP, underlines this interconnection. A multi-country study, COHA, in easily undertood economic terms, puts a price tag on what a country loses as a result of  child malnutrition. The study demonstrates how child nutrition and human development can either catalyze or constrain the transformation of Africa.

What scope is there for sharing more of the success stories in fighting hunger?

There is immense potential for countries to learn from what we have done well and to share that knowledge. Such sharing is a pillar of the Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot led by WFP that is connecting smallholder farmers to markets and helping them increase the quantity and quality of the food they grow. Already other non-P4P countries are adopting elements of this initiative. The key lies in identifying and then capitalizing on successes toward ensuring food security in other African and developing countries.

Are there examples of innovation and progress that make you optimistic about the task ahead?

In Niger, which suffers from increasing climate related shocks, the 3 N Initiative - Nigériens Nourissent Nigériens - addresses immediate needs and builds longer term resilience in an innovative manner. The programme is community driven and centres on improving smallholders' access to water, inputs, information and training as well as on the development of local markets.

But to help raise people out of poverty, social protection programs are also required.  So the program also includes “safety nets”, cash and food vouchers, and school canteens. Here in Ethiopia, the Government operates the largest social protection programme in all of sub-Saharan Africa, covering 6.8 million chronically food-insecure people. The program includes microfinance services, cash and food vouchers, cash-for work programmes and other initiatives that create individual and community resilience.