The countries of the Sahel and West Africa are facing a food and nutrition crisis of exceptional proportions. This situation is a result of long-term structural issues including poverty, a lack of availability and access to basic social services and chronic insecurity. Recent socio-economic shocks, extreme weather events, the impacts of Covid-19 and the geopolitical situation are all exacerbating the food and nutrition situation. Governments face difficult budgetary trade-offs between security, health and food emergencies. Moreover, development partners need to address many challenges related to co-ordination and alignment. It is important to support the innovation process and build FNS governance tools that better respond to these multiple challenges in a rapidly evolving context.
Created in 1984 on the initiative of members and partners of CILSS and the Club du Sahel, the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) is an international platform for consultation and co-ordination under the political leadership of the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions. It brings together more than one hundred stakeholders.
The SWAC/OECD Secretariat runs the Network alongside the CILSS. It contributes to the analyses and evaluations of the Charter for Food Crisis Prevention and Management (PREGEC); ensures advocacy and lobbying functions and plays a central role in the Network's communication. It provides decision makers (officials) and practitioners with decision-making, political dialogue and co-ordination tools.
The region is currently experiencing a food and nutrition crisis without precedent. Nearly 17 million people are in need of immediate assistance for the period June-August 2020. 51 million, currently under pressure, could fall into crisis phase under the combined effects of insecurity and the consequences of the health crisis.
At the request of the RPCA, the SWAC/OECD Secretariat - in close collaboration with the CILSS - has set up a platform for co-ordination. The result of the collective work of all Network members, this platform provides on the ground information on the implementation of national response plans and on regional and international initiatives.
Pastoral communities were already facing many challenges long before the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation was already tense due to significant fodder shortages and insecurity limiting herd mobility. Measures to limit mobility (closing borders and livestock markets) are aggravating the situation. Pastoralist organisations and all members of the RPCA are monitoring and tracking pastoral vulnerability. These initiatives feed into the Network's thematic work. For many years, the SWAC/OECD Secretariat has been supporting regional reflection on livestock and pastoralism and its analyses feed into policy and strategy formulation.
Following the great drought of 1983-84, which led to major disruptions in emergency food aid, RPCA members decided to adopt a Food Aid Charter in 1990; a code of good conduct to improve the co-ordination and effectiveness of aid. The Charter was revised in 2006-11 to take into account a wider geographical area covering all West African and Sahelian countries, and to address food and nutrition issues in a more systemic way. This led to the adoption in 2012 of the Charter for Food Crisis Prevention and Management (PREGEC Charter). The SWAC/OECD Secretariat and the CILSS co-ordinate the regular external evaluations of the PREGEC Charter.
The multiplication – and in some cases overlapping - of food and nutrition security (FNS) initiatives, programmes and projects underscores the urgency of strengthening convergence, co-ordination and alignment. Who does what? Where? When and how? This information is essential for dialogue on co-ordination and alignment.
As part of its support to the RPCA, the SWAC/OECD Secretariat is developing and updating an interactive geo-referenced map of FNS and resilience interventions. This database currently contains nearly 550 projects and continues to grow.
The Club's advocacy for the prevention of recurrent food and nutrition crises has enabled actors in the region and their international partners to seal the Global Alliance for Resilience (AGIR) in 2012 within the framework of the RPCA. Based on a shared understanding of resilience, "National Resilience Priorities" (NRP-AGIR) have been defined in ten countries and are currently being implemented. As part of its support to RPCA, the Secretariat is contributing to the capitalisation of these through an interactive map.
Local or national food reserves are important instruments for responding to food and nutrition crises. In December 2010, the Accra Forum on "Regional Solidarity to Address Food Crises" organised by the SWAC/OECD Secretariat, brought about an exchange of experiences between Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe. It gave rise to the idea of a regional mechanism for crisis management in the Sahel and West Africa. At the initiative of ECOWAS, UEMOA and CILSS, a Task Force was tasked with formulating a proposal for a regional food security reserve, building on previous initiatives. In support, the SWAC/OECD Secretariat conducted studies, contributed to discussions and organised a G20 Outreach Session on "Agricultural and Food Price Volatility" in 2011. This resulted in the endorsement of the region's initiative by the G20. Adopted by ECOWAS in February 2013, the Regional Food Security Reserve benefits from EU funding and support.