Regional conference on capacity development for integrating disaster risk reduction in urban settings in Africa

ADDIS ABABA – Urban Development and Construction State Minister, Dessalegn Ambaw said his ministry is undertaking activities eyed at reducing disaster vulnerability in towns.

Addressing a Regional Conference on Capacity Development for Integrating Disaster Risk Management in to Urban Settings in Africa on Thursday, the State Minister Dessalegn said the government has commenced Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and vulnerability reduction activities in urban areas.

He said the Growth and Transformation Plan has targeted modern urban land management and spatial planning system that could strengthen resilience and reduce poverty.

Ministry of Agriculture Disaster Reduction Management and Food Security Sector State Minister, Mitiku Kassa for his part said DRM activities include risk reduction, preparedness, responsiveness and rehabilitation.

He said Ethiopia has established efficient institutional setup, formulated policies and strategic frameworks, and organized national and sub-national DRM platforms backed by comprehensive risk information system.

According to him, Ethiopia has emerged as a leading nation in the application of DRM in the developing world.

The State Minister said DRM enables to strengthen preparedness and provide quick response to emergency cases.

DRM is supported by a serious of task forces including agriculture, nutrition, education and WASH activities.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Construction organized the conference in collaboration with World Food Program (WFP) and European Union (EU).



India ‘Food security bill’ can be global example

New Delhi : The proposed National Food Security Bill has the potential to be a global example, experts from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Oxfam said here Tuesday.

India stands at the threshold of potentially the largest step towards food justice the world has ever seen, as the National Food Security Bill works its way through parliament,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Britain-based IDS, said.

“Although the bill alone won’t fix India’s food system, the world will be watching to see if it can provide a template for other countries to follow,” Haddad said ahead of the launch of a bulletin by IDS and voluntary organisation Oxfam in the national capital.

The bill aims to give legal right to cheaper foodgrain to 63.5 per cent of the population. Around 180 million households — 65 million below poverty line (BPL) and 115 million above poverty line (APL) category families — get subsidised rations under the PDS through the fair price shops.

The bulletin examines food justice in the country and addresses questions on empowering the marginalised and women.


“Due to India’s large population, the country is home to 42 percent of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of its stunted children. India has alarming levels of hunger on the global hunger index,” said Nisha Agrawal, chief executive officer of Oxfam India.

read from the source 


The G8 and Africa’s Food Security – Time to Scale Up, Speed Up and Invest Up

In the lead up to the G8 Summit, AGRA stood with U.S. President Barak Obama and African heads of state to mark the launch of the next phase of our shared commitment to achieving global food security.

Focused on engaging the private sector in funding agricultural development, this initiative presents a new opportunity to find practical solutions to the devastating food crises that still plague Africa.

We have achieved common consensus on what needs to be done – what smallholder farmers in Ghana and the rest of the continent need: supportive policies, better seeds, access to finance, fertilizers, skills development and extension services, national research systems, and market infrastructure.

Early results, based on AGRA’s efforts to meet these needs over the last five years, are very encouraging.

Due to the collective efforts of African governments, the global donor community including the G8, research institutions, the private sector, farmers’ organizations and NGOs, we have seen remarkable progress – but now we must redouble our efforts.

At L’Aquila G8 countries stepped up, following Camp David they must scale up, speed up and invest up.

We are at a critical turning point. To make the most of recent momentum, G8 leaders, African governments and the private sector need to take the following steps to deliver lasting food-security solutions.

First G8 countries, African governments and the private sector need to put in place measures to ensure money is effectively dispersed.

Multi-billion dollar commitments hold great promise, but only if they reach the farmers, researchers, agro-dealers, extension workers and others who are building Africa’s agricultural economy. Realistic pledges with meaningful accountability are absolutely necessary.

Second, international and African governments need to build structures that funnel funds to agriculture’s private sector economic development.

Given the private-sector focus of the new initiative, it is critically important to scale up mechanisms, such as the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), that permit funding through the private sector or other non-state actors such as AGRA and farmers’ organizations.

Currently, funding continues to be channeled almost exclusively through public institutions. We need to provide support that will enable investment to go where it is most likely to be used properly and profitably within Africa’s private sector.

Third, we must listen to the smallholder farmer and small agri-business owners across Africa.

They are the experts, tirelessly working to move the continent forward. They will tell us what they need on the ground to be successful.

AGRA supports an approach that is coordinated globally, but is African led and focused on smallholder farmers.

This approach must be equitable, transparent and accountable to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

As the dust settles on the recent G8 Summit, I hope the leaders AGRA met at Camp David and those we continue to meet across the continent will fund their commitments and take the bold action necessary to feed future generations.

*The writer is President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa*

read from the source

Food Security: AGRA to help implement new G8 Global Partnership Initiative

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has been given a key role in the G8’s next phase of a shared commitment to achieve global food security, the Alliance said in a statement made available to PANA here. It said the Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership, part of the new initiative focused on increasing agricultural food production in Africa, would be housed at AGRA and would focus on strengthening Africa’s seed sector.

“African food security will only be met by increased agricultural production,” the statement quoted Strive Masiyiwa, AGRA’s acting chair, as saying while addressing the G8 leaders and four African heads of state at the G8 Summit.

” The approach being put forward by the G8 is modeled on some of AGRA’s on-going work on behalf of Africa’s smallholder farmers and we are pleased to play a major role in this global initiative,” he said.

The Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership will strengthen the seed sector and promote the commercialization, distribution and adoption of key technologies to improve seed varieties, and other technologies to meet concrete targets in partner countries.

“AGRA is working with its main partners to create breadbaskets in Africa through support to smallholder farmers,” said Jane Karuku, AGRA President.  “We are now seeing smallholder farmers prospering due to bigger crop yields and entire communities benefiting from the growth of small agribusinesses.”

AGRA has also invested in training African scientists who will develop research capacity, and strengthen the capacity of seed companies both technically and in terms of management capability.

It has established MSc and PhD programmes at 13 key African universities – more than 400 post- graduate students have been enrolled, a hundred of whom have graduated. This represents a quarter of the scientists known to be working in this field today.

AGRA’s  experts believe that 1,000 new scientists in this field are required to sustain the Green Revolution. To date, these and other AGRA-supported scientist have produced 342 new crop varieties – a 100 percent increase in available improved varieties.

Host US President Barack Obama invited four African leaders to the recent G8 Summit at the presidential resort in Camp David to discuss food security in Africa.

The leaders are Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, John Atta Mills of Ghana and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, as well as Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

They were joined by business leaders and civil society groups to discuss agricultural development and food security in Africa as part of the G8 summit.

At the end of the summit, President Obama announced a US$3 billion pledge as a part of a policy to promote agriculture revolution on the African continent.

Pana 24/05/2012

read from the source

UN Humanitarian Official Praises Ethiopia Efforts On Food Security Amid Drought

A United Nations humanitarian official today praised the Ethiopian Government for its innovative and effective efforts to build resilience and food self-sufficiency amid increasingly challenging climatic conditions.

“Ethiopia has made quite incredible advances in mitigating the impact of drought,” said the Operations Director at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, in a news release following a two-day visit to Ethiopia.

“Multi-year investments in safety nets and significant advances in health and nutrition have saved countless lives and protected millions from the famine experienced elsewhere in the Horn of Africa,” he said, adding that “the successful policies pursued by the Ethiopian Government provide an invaluable experience to share, not just elsewhere in the Horn [of Africa], but also across the drought-ridden Sahel.”

The Horn of Africa experienced a food crisis last year that left an estimated 13 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance. Currently there are 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

Mr. Ging met with Government officials, humanitarian partners and representatives of the donor community to discuss the impact of the delayed onset of the belg short rains, which normally occur from mid-February to May. He voiced his appreciation of the readiness of donors and aid agencies to provide the resources required to respond quickly to the additional challenge, in partnership with the Government.

On a visit to a therapeutic feeding centre in the town of Boricha in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region, Mr. Ging noted that he heard mothers’ concerns about their inability to feed their children and the delayed planting of crops.

“It is heartbreaking to see children so acutely malnourished,” said Mr. Ging. “Their immediate suffering, and the long-term damage done to their learning abilities, leaves us all in agreement that more must be done to protect and prevent children from ending up in these centres.”

The humanitarian official commended government officials and aid agencies for expanding targeted and general food distributions, and encouraged them to continue to act quickly and decisively, noting that “prevention is always better than cure.”

read from the source

Four African leaders to join food security talks at G8 summit

President Barack Obama has invited four African leaders to join food security talks at the annual G8 summit this month.

Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, John Mills of Ghana and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia will attend the summit at the presidential retreat in Camp David.

They will join Obama and other leaders of G8 member nations for a session on food security in Africa, the White House said in a statement.

G8 — or Group of Eight — comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The summit planned for May 18-19 comes amid fears of famine and drought in some parts of Africa.

Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya battled drought last year, and aid groups have warned that several other nations are at risk of a hunger crisis.

“A combination of drought, poverty, high grain prices, environmental degradation and chronic under-development is affecting Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Cameroon and Nigeria,” the United Nations said this year. “More than 10 million people are struggling to get enough to eat, including 5.4 million in Niger.”

The food and nutrition insecurity threatens the fragile development the region has made, according to Valerie Amos, the U.N. aid chief.

Read from the source

Ethiopia-World Bank Support for Social Safety Net to Benefit 8.3 Million By 2015

  Washington — Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which has a seven-year track record of improving food security for poor people and increasing their resilience in the face of economic and climate-related crises, is to receive additional funding from the World Bank. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved an additional credit of US$370 million for the program, which now reaches about 7.6 million chronically food-insecure people or 8 percent of Ethiopia’s population, and is set to cover 8.3 million people by 2015. This funding includes US$70 million in crisis response resources intended to help address the consequences of drought in the Horn of Africa. “The Productive Safety Net Program has arrested and reversed a 15-year trend of deteriorating food security and assets in many rural areas,” said Guang Z. Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia. “In addition to cushioning vulnerable rural households during crises such as the recent drought in the Horn of Africa, PSNP equips them with productive assets based on which they can develop a more sustainable livelihood. It also provides poor households with increased access to vital health and education services.” Serving 319 woredas (districts) in Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harare, Oromiya, Somali, Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP) and Tigray Regions, the program works by paying the poorest and most vulnerable people for working on public works projects for six months a year, and by giving direct grants to those who are unable to work, and to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Besides continuing these activities, the program will now enable households to build more assets, and to improve their access to financial services. It has registered strong results, improving food security by an average of 32 days for households participating in public works projects and enabling them to increase their livestock significantly, by an average of 10 sheep or goats per family. Importantly, the 40,000 public works projects undertaken every year have helped address the root causes of food insecurity by rehabilitating degraded land and creating productive community assets such as terraced fields, feeder roads, and small-scale irrigation systems. Launched in 2005, the PSNP is now in its third phase of implementation with a total budget of approximately US$2.3 billion from 10 development partners: the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Irish Aid, the European Union (EU), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Netherlands, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Food Program and the World Bank. “Putting in place an effective social safety net program has helped Ethiopia to move beyond emergency food aid to a more effective development-oriented response that can be scaled up in times of hardship,” said Wolter Soer, the program’s Task Team Leader based in Addis Ababa. “The more steady and reliable the transfer of resources to the household level, the greater the impact of the safety net.” World Bank support to social protection in Africa has been growing both during and after the recent food, fuel, and economic crises. By the end of this year, safety net assessments will have been completed in 20 African countries. In many countries, governments are already using these assessments to help design and establish national safety net programs. World Bank lending commitments for social protection in Africa have grown from an average of US$260 million a year during fiscal years 2001-05 to an average of US$600 million a year in fiscal years 2006-2010. Commitments in fiscal year 2012 stand at nearly US$700 million. Source