ECOWAS Commission President Participates In Food And Nutrition Crises Meeting In The Sahel

President Jean Claude Kassi Brou
President Jean Claude Kassi Brou

The President of the ECOWAS Commission participated in a high-level meeting on food and nutrition crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions. 

H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission participated on Wednesday 6 April 2022 in a high-level meeting on food and nutrition crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions.  Co-organised by the Sahel and West Africa Club, the European Union and the Global Network Against Food Crises, the meetingwhich was held at the OECD Conference Centre in Paris, France, focused on the theme “Food and nutrition crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions: time to act now and better mobilise in the Sahel and West Africa for the future”. 

The opening ceremony of the meeting featured an address by H.E Mohammed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger who presented his address via videoconference.  The hybrid meeting (face-to-face and videoconference), which was attended by senior representatives of technical and financial partners, Sahelian and West African States, regional organisations (ECOWAS, UEMOA, CILSS, G5-Sahel, etc.)  had two objectives.

The objectives of the meeting included( i) Mobilising emergency food and nutrition assistance for the most affected populations in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Chad), which account for 92% of people affected by the food and nutrition crisis, and (ii) Renewing a strong and long-term political commitment to structural policies to be implemented to address the underlying causes of food and nutrition crises, and integrating humanitarian, development and peace dimensions.

Speaking during the meeting, the President of the ECOWAS Commission welcomed this meeting, which is a platform for meetings and direct exchanges between African countries and major development partners.  He also reviewed the efforts made by ECOWAS to offer appropriate social protection to its populations through the establishment in 2012 of a regional food security reserve as a common instrument of solidarity and support to populations in countries affected by the food crisis. The regional reserve system, according to President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, is based on three levels which include (i) community level, (ii) country level with the establishment of national storage bodies and (iii) regional level.

According to him, ECOWAS has completed the first phase of the operationalisation of the reserve in December 2021 with the financial support of the European Union, and the technical assistance of AFD and AECID. “Since 2016, the reserve has made it possible to provide support to vulnerable populations in northern Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and it has reached more than 3 million people who are in difficult food situations and affected by the consequences of climate change, terrorism, banditry and intercommunal conflicts,” said the President of the ECOWAS Commission.

President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou also highlighted the factors exacerbating the food situation, which include the impacts of COVID-19, climate change, insecurity and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. He stated that ECOWAS, faced with this situation, is working on two priority areas. The first priority area involves emergency actions to help populations affected by food insecurity by complementing the ongoing efforts of governments and local communities. The second area concerns the continued mobilisation of structured investments at the regional level to strengthen the resilience of agro-food systems in West Africa and the Sahel.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission concluded his remarks with an appeal to the partners: “ECOWAS is calling for the support of all our bilateral and multilateral partners, including the United Nations system in charge of humanitarian issues, to form third-party payers to the regional reserve in order to ensure support to the affected populations and to perpetuate the reserve. ECOWAS also calls on donors to provide financial resources to the regional reserve domiciled at EBID in order to promote the purchase of local products in surplus areas for the benefit of deficit areas in our region.”

It is important to note that for the third consecutive year, the countries of the Sahel and West Africa are facing a serious food and nutrition crisis. If appropriate measures are not taken, hunger and malnutrition could threaten 33.4 million people by the 2022 lean season.

The delegation of the President of the ECOWAS Commission to this meeting comprised the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources Sékou Sangare, H.E. Jonas Hemou, ECOWAS Permanent Representative to the European Union and  Mrs Patricia Anoma,  Special Adviser to the President of the ECOWAS Commission on Economic Affairs.

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