Addis Ababa: May 16, 2014 – A global conference on food and nutrition security which kicked off yesterday in Addis Ababa lauded the host nation’s success in building resilience.
Organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the IFPRI 2020 Resilience Conference was opened at the Sheraton Addis by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
The conference aims at building resilience as a way to help people “prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocks and not only bounce back to where they were before the shocks occurred, but become even better-off.”
IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan, in his welcoming speech, singled out Ethiopia and Bangladesh as countries with success stories in building resilience to mitigate and recover from major shocks.
“In 2011, when the horn of Africa was hit by the worst drought in 60 years, Ethiopia mitigated the impact through its productive safety net program,” said the director general. “Food shortages did occur but this system delivered food to Ethiopians in a timely manner and put the country in a better position to meet its citizen’s food needs than several of its neighbors like Somalia and Kenya.”
Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), attributed Ethiopia’s success story to the country’s leadership and government policies that addressed macroeconomic issues and ensured investment in drought preparedness and smallholder farmers.
“Today’s Ethiopia is the fastest growing non-oil economy in Africa with growth of about 10 per cent, with the second largest floriculture industry in Africa, the largest producer of hides and skin as well as honey in Africa, and an impressive commodity market for large and smallholder farmers,” Nwanze said.
He underscored the need to give due focus to agriculture and rural development to build resilience for food and nutrition security.
Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), joined in the praise for Ethiopia stating that her organization has drawn lessons from Ethiopia in resilience building.
“When it comes to resilience building, Ethiopia is a cradle of knowledge,” she said.
Hailemariam said Ethiopia, a country that has been subject to severe and repeated droughts, recognizes the need to build resilience.
“For us, anticipating, adapting to , and recovering from shocks are essential to our future,” he said adding that government policies and strategies embody the country’s key strategy of enhancing resilience to shocks of many forms and build a robus and diversified economy.
“Resilient systems are made up of resilient people,” Hailemariam said. “We work to eradicate hunger and under nutrition. We aim to create healthy and productive individuals, communities and institutions. In all our endeavors we are eager to share our experiences and learn from others.”
The government of Ethiopia attaches great importance in the development of agriculture, which contributes to 50% of the GDP and employs 80% of the population. It is also the major foreign currency earner.
The country allocates 15% percent of the GDP for agriculture development, one of the highest in Africa, with due focus given to small holder farmers. As put by Tefera Deribew, the Minister of Agriculture, the country has adopted the motto ‘As agriculture goes, so does the economy’.
More than 800 participants from 75 countries have converged in Addis Ababa to participate in the three day 2020 Resilience Conference. The conference – the sixth in the 2020 Vision “family” of conferences that explore emerging food policy issues – aims to incorporate resilience into post 2015 agenda and improve policies, investments and institutions to strengthen resilience.