Welcome to Abuja!
Message from François-Xavier de Donnea, President of the Sahel and West Africa Club:
After Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Brussels and Milano, we are pleased to celebrate the 2016 edition of the Sahel and West Africa Week in Abuja, Nigeria.
Placed under the political and technical leadership of ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS, the 32nd annual meeting of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) will place strong emphasis on the region’s food and nutrition challenges. This event comes at a timely moment as Nigeria has made important headway in rolling out the Cadre harmonisé. For the first time, this consensual and regionally comparable analysis of vulnerable areas and the number of people at risk for food and nutrition insecurity was conducted in 16 out of 36 Nigerian states, covering almost half of the country. We hope that the remaining states will quickly build capacity to soon include all of Nigeria.
Due to the Boko Haram insurgency and massive population displacement, the three north-eastern states, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, have reached extremely high levels of food insecurity. While the government has geared up its support and humanitarian access is slowly improving, the situation remains particularly worrisome in the state of Borno, where nearly 60% of the population (3.3 million people) are still facing acute food insecurity (phases 3-5), including 55 000 people threatened by famine (phase 5). We hope that the session dedicated to the critical situation in north-eastern Nigeria will contribute to mobilising additional support, notably from regional organisations and international partners in tackling the emergency while also promoting sustainable development in these areas. Targeted efforts are key because we need to first and foremost protect the most vulnerable people: children under the age of five as well as pregnant and nursing women. However, the challenges are great, in particular in non-accessible zones. They require concerted action and a multi-sectoral approach. It is for this reason that the government of Nigeria created an inter-ministerial task force to help co-ordinate humanitarian efforts and improve the effectiveness of collective actions. We hope that many actors will join the call for action.
As Africa’s most populous and largest economy, Nigeria is an important driver of regional integration and plays a key role in fostering the regional food economy. Moving away from oil and making our agricultural sector strong and dynamic is a priority of the government. The agricultural sector's profound transformations need to be better taken into account in order to increasingly integrate all the upstream and downstream activities of the food economy into policies that can create jobs and economic growth. The SWAC Secretariat’s innovative work will highlight these essential issues in a thematic session and we must make sure that they are better reflected in policy making.
A large number of other important events will take place in the coming days. We wish you all a stimulating, productive and successful Sahel and West Africa Week in Abuja.