AFRICA - Food security and agriculture have an essential role to play in preventing conflicts and crises on the African continent, blunting their impacts and acting as engines for post-crisis recovery.
This was the central message of FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva to African leaders and international development actors gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, today for one of the foremost summits on African development.
"Ending hunger and malnutrition, addressing humanitarian and protracted crises, preventing and resolving conflicts, and building peace are not separate tasks, but simply different facets of the same challenge," Mr Graziano da Silva said at a side-event on ‘Peace and Food Security', hosted by FAO, at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI, 26-28 August 2016).
"By supporting agriculture and rural development, we help create jobs, provide income and boost youth employment. This can help prevent distress migration and radicalisation, as well as mitigate disputes over depleted resources," he said.
No peace without freedom from want
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, FAO has worked with partners on the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (D-D-R) of former combatants by providing them with the agricultural skills, knowledge and supplies - an approach proven to lower the risk of ex-combatants rejoining militias once they are empowered with access to food and income-generating activities.
Graziano da Silva underscored the many opportunities to replicate this strategy in other post-conflict situations and stressed recent conversations with leaders in the Central African Republic aimed at putting agriculture at the center of the country's recovery by providing food security and jobs for rural youth.
In two other examples, FAO and partners are working in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia to support the peaceful use of natural resources and prevent the spread of transboundary livestock diseases, while in the Sahel, pastoralism and the economic empowerment of rural women are central parts of the agency's roadmap to increase resilience in the region.
Food security, stable livelihoods and peace are interdependent, Graziano da Silva argued, referring to the words of FAO's founding fathers, who professed that "Progress toward freedom from want is essential to lasting peace."
Launch of new nutrition initiative
FAO also welcomes the launch of the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) to accelerate international efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition on the African continent.
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