Remarks by Ertharin Cousin at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) - Yokohama, Japan

Delivered on: 31 May 2013


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;

I speak to you today not only as the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), but also on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Together, we are pleased to add our voice to the Special Event on Somalia.

As Somalia enters a new phase of stabilization, peace and nation building under the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his government, we are here to talk about the opportunities for progress on food security, livelihoods and nutrition in Somalia.

We also seek to underline the necessity of maintaining this progress – led by the Government and carried out in partnership with the international community – through the next years of a fragile and challenging transition toward stable governance and restoration of public services.

Failing this, we risk losing the hard-won gains achieved to date, for which the people of Somalia and also neighboring countries have paid such a heavy and significant price.

With the clarity of hindsight, we know that chronic vulnerability was a key factor in the widespread death and suffering wrought by the 2011 Somalia Famine.  The international community was forced to ask an uncomfortable question:  How could this happen after so many years of emergency assistance? 

Together, we committed to understand the root causes of that catastrophe, and the Humanitarian Community together pledged never again.

To save lives and protect livelihoods today in Somalia, one million people continue to require humanitarian assistance.  Childhood malnutrition is still unacceptably high.  In fact, one in seven children under five years of age is acutely malnourished.  Another 135,000 children are severely malnourished.  

A large portion of the population remains vulnerable, especially in the South Central area of the country.

We are committed to joining with the people of Somalia in laying the foundations for improved resilience of households and communities.

We support the six-pillar framework of the Federal Government of Somalia to alleviate the suffering of its citizens, build reliable and functioning state institutions, and initiate solid economic recovery.

Together, FAO, UNICEF and WFP worked with the Government to realign and redesign our programmes to ensure they are in lock-step with the government’s six-pillar plan.  We developed a medium-term Joint Resilience Strategy that supports communities in Somalia in the efforts to anticipate, absorb and recover from external pressures and shocks. 

The aim of our joint programme is to strengthen community resilience and reduce vulnerability, while also preserving the integrity of individuals and households.  To do so the three-year FAO, UNICEF and WFP strategy integrates three themes:

1.      Strengthening productive sectors;

2.      Enhancing basic services to protect human capital; and

3.      Promoting safety nets for a minimum of social protection.


This package of community-level interventions strengthens capacities for agricultural, livestock and fishery production and marketing.  It also aims to reduce household vulnerability to disease and malnutrition by providing reliable and sustainable access to basic services, including water, education, nutrition and health, together with a reliable safety net for the most seasonally and chronically vulnerable people.

We understand that short-term crisis responses, while necessary, will not alone build the resilience necessary to overcome chronic vulnerability and mitigate the future risk of famine.  We must address vulnerabilities through medium- to long-term, outcome-focused, resilience-building initiatives.  Such initiatives aim to strengthen the capacity of households and communities to cope with and rebound from shocks.

Somalia also requires investment in human and economic capital to achieve stability, embrace economic recovery and build a strong social foundation for more inclusive, resilient and peaceful communities.

Embedding service provisions at the grassroots level and making these provisions more self-sustaining strengthens human social development and empowers communities even through times of crisis.  These investments in economic and human capital enable vulnerable people to support themselves through periods of stress or emergency.

We further believe that sustained peace and stability will never be achieved through top-down security interventions alone.  

To truly give peace a chance in Somalia requires sustained international public as well as private investments addressing the root causes of chronic vulnerability; we must work with the Government and the people of Somalia in supporting their drive toward a more resilient and more secure future.   Because it is only then that we will and can create the opportunity for a sustainable and durable food- and nutrition-secure Somalia.