FAO’s Peace-Building Efforts Through Food Security
ROME, May 12 2016 (IPS) – At the launching today, of the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureate Alliance for food security and peace, FAO’s Director-General said that “peace and food security are inextricably linked – we cannot achieve one without the other. By integrating food security and peace-building initiatives, we can work together to ensure that hunger is neither a cause nor a result of conflict.”
This assessment has been warmly embraced by the Nobel Peace Laureates, who have agreed to work together with FAO with the main objective of helping to bring peace in conflict prone areas and banishing poverty and hunger in the world.
FAO considers peace building essential to its mission. The organization recognizes that a stable, peaceful environment is the foundation of lasting food security and sustainable livelihoods.
According to FAO, most conflicts today affect rural areas and their populations. This is particularly true of civil conflicts, which are now the most common form of armed conflict.
The organization has highlighted the fact that conflict has adverse effects on food security and nutrition, as well as being the major cause of food insecurity and malnutrition, both acute and chronic.
In terms of human development, FAO studies found that conflicts have a devastating effect on the lives of people, as a result of increased malnutrition, which tends to affect children the most and leave people withlifelong physical and sometimes mental handicaps.
FAO studies have also established that, although the casual effects of the link between conflict-food security vary across conflict zones, the common features are: disruption of food production and food systems, plundering of crops and livestock, and loss of assets and income, hence directly and indirectly affecting food access, and the entire social, cultural, and economic fabric of communities.
FAO data clearly show that, on average, the proportion of people who are undernourished is almost three times as high in countries in protracted crisis than in other developing countries. In 2013 there were approximately 167 million malnourished people in countries in protracted crisis – roughly 21 percent of the world’s undernourished people.
The studies also found that poverty rates are 20 percent higher in countries affected by repeated circles of violence over the last three decades. An estimate 40 percent of fragile post-conflict countries relapse into conflict within 10 years – recent examples include South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
The following are some examples of the ongoing activities of the organization on food security and peace building. Since 2009 FAO has been closely collaborating with the United Nations Peace Building Fund (PBF). It has supported activities and projects that contribute to building lasting peace in countries emerging from conflict through emergency projects, with more than 80 percent of them taking place in Africa.
Countries that have benefited from these projects include: Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, South Sudan, Uganda and Yemen,
FAOs main focus in these countries has been, providing assistance through training, education, capacity building, the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, distribution of seeds, agricultural kits and veterinary care for livestock.
FAO recognizes that building and consolidating peace in countries affected by conflict, requires increased and sustained support of the recovery efforts of the affected countries. The priority, according to FAO, is on the implementation of projects for the revitalization of the agriculture sector, increasing food production, and income-generating opportunities, especially for rural communities, including ex-combatants, women and young people.
Based on its experience, FAO is convinced that to achieve long-term food and livelihood security in conflict areas, there is need for sustained responses in the fight against food insecurity. In particular special actions must be taken to enable disaster-prone populations recover quickly and be engaged in productive economic activities.
Instead of working only to provide immediate assistance and food aid, which is essential but not enough, the organization now focuses on the need to implement structural actions that will accelerate recovery and point to a more resilient post-conflict situation.
FAOs work on natural hazards seeks to mainstream disaster risk reduction by strengthening capacities of national governments and civil society in designing and implementing policies and projects for risk reduction in the agricultural sectors.
FAO’s uses its emergency Prevention and Early Warning Systems, to improve access to information on known and emerging food chain threats to enable countries to prevent and mitigate risks.
In countries where the crisis is protracted, FAOs is implementing the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Agenda for Action. The main objectives of the Agenda include: building better understanding of linkages between food security, nutrition, agriculture-based livelihoods; and strengthening capacities to design, and implement policies and actions.
By increasing the stability and social cohesion of countries affected by conflict, FAOs approach has greatly contributed towards sustainable peace and development in these countries.
According to FAO, Agriculture including fisheries and forestry, will continue to provide the primary livelihood source for 86 percent of the world’s rural population, providing jobs for an estimate of 1.3 billion smallholders and landless workers, and the key to the eradication of both poverty and hunger in the world
With this new initiative the organization, with support from the new Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance will go a long way in further strengthening its activities in peace-building and food security, at a time of serious challenges, partly fueled by: slower world economic growth rates; growing inequalities between nations; as well as by seemingly intractable violent conflicts and political instability in many countries.