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Food security can help prevent conflicts in Africa: officials

29 August 2016, 13:31

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- The UN food agency on Saturday called on African nations to prioritize food security, which it said has an important role to play in preventing conflicts and crises on the African continent.

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said the impact of agriculture has proven to be an engine for post crisis recovery in a number of countries in the world.

"We need to focus our attention towards supporting agriculture and rural development as this helps create jobs, provide income and boost youth employment," he said early this week during a meeting on food security and building peace building in Africa.

Da Silva noted that the approach has proven successful in Angola and the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) as it has prevented distress migration and radicalization, as well as mitigate disputes over depleted resources.

The link between conflict prevention and development is of particular importance in the region, which is host to nearly 60 percent of active UN Peacekeeping Missions.

And whilst armed conflicts across Africa as a whole have decreased in recent years, this trend has been uneven across the continent.

In the DRC, FAO has worked with partners on the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) 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.

Da Silva called for the adoption of this strategy in other post-conflict situations by providing secure and resilient conditions that meet the needs of rural people in terms of nutrition and livelihoods.

Somalia Deputy Minister for Planning and International Cooperation Abdullahi Ali revealed that 40 percent of the country's population currently live on one meal a day due to insecurity.

He said the worst affected are the 10 percent of the population that live in the internally displaced camps.

"We are launching a development plan before the end of the year that will set a road map towards ensuring food security in the country," he said.

"Despite the current situation, we have developed workable strategies that have put agriculture, fisheries and tourism in the frontline," he added.

The Director of IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development Solomon Munyua observed that so long as one member of IGAD is unstable, the region will never be peaceful.

Munyua called for the solution to root cause of conflicts by improving social livelihoods and building cohesion amongst the communities.

"The eight member IGAD countries need a solution to unemployment amongst the youth to discourage them from joining militia groups," he said.

FAO and partners are working in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia to support the peaceful use of natural resources and prevent the spread of trans-boundary livestock diseases. They are also working in the Sahel region supporting pastoralism and empowering.

Leaders in Central African Republic (CAR) are also resorting to putting agriculture at the center of the country's recovery by providing food security and jobs for rural youth.

- Xinhua


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