$120 million commitment for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa through an Integrated Approach Pilot initiative taking a systemic approach to environmental threats
ADDIS ABABA/Washington DC, May 15, 2014—The Global Environment Facility announced today it will launch a $120 million initiative to foster long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through the Integrated Approach Pilot program Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, "we are seeking to bring a multi-stakeholder framework to bear upon this very important development agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Dr. Naoko Ishii, the CEO of the GEF. "By targeting the sustainable management of natural capital - the land, soil, water and genetic resources - in this collective manner, we can address many of the drivers affecting African farmers and the health of our planet."
The Integrated Approach Pilot program will create a platform where all important actors can work together to advance food security with global environment benefits, specifically targeting regions prone to extremes of weather. GEF funds will help countries to harness the multi-stakeholder platform for scaling-up innovations that will safeguard natural resources—land, water, soils, trees, and genetic resources—and increase resilience in these regions.
The pilot program marks a departure from business as usual at the GEF by emphasizing a systemic ways of addressing environmental issues—in this case, the management of food production systems. This new approach will attempt to break away from the legacy of agriculture systems exported to Africa without concern for the ecology of drylands, and instead bridge the gap between traditional and sustainable farming practices with modern technologies that seek higher yields.
Total world population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, with almost half of this growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 27 percent of people are undernourished. Sub-Saharan Africa also has the world's lowest crop yields, with cereal yields one-half of the world average. Soil quality is poor throughout much of the region, depleted of organic matter and nutrients. Because of the potentially daunting challenge of feeding the planet's increasing population, the threat of environmental degradation and climate change will create a perfect storm in the agriculture sector in Sub-Sahara Africa.
As countries in Africa move toward intensification of agriculture to achieve food security, there is a clear need to keep the water flowing and soils healthy, and to maintain the indigenous and adaptive crop varieties and livestock breeds on which millions of smallholder farmers depend for their survival. There are a myriad of successful efforts and adaptive practices all across the African continent, with evidence of tangible results for people and the environment.
From the West African Sahel to the Horn of Africa, smallholder farmers and grassroots communities have demonstrated useful innovations in management of land, water, trees, and genetic resources. This includes for example, agroforestry systems that replenish valuable nutrients in the soil, integration of high value trees with food crops to diversify production landscapes, and water harvesting practices to secure precious water.
However, moving these successes to scale remains a challenge, because there are no appropriate frameworks to attract all relevant actors that must be engaged in order to achieve sustainability and resilience for food security. Government agencies are critical for establishing supportive policies; smallholder farmers must be empowered to collectively apply knowledge and technologies appropriate to the needs; the private sector must play a critical role with input and output markets but governments need to provide the right incentives; and CSOs have an important role in strengthening capacity at the local level. Research institutions must continue to provide knowledge to match the right technology and practices to the right places.
The GEF's most important lever in this context is its convening role for creating multi-stakeholder platforms that will bring the diverse set of stakeholders under and united framework where each can play their respective part. We need to make sure that all key critical pieces are in place and partners share the overall goal. This way we can scale-up proven good practices and policies that are currently fragmented in order to achieve sustainability and resilience for food security. As a leading funder for the global environment and as a financial mechanism of the major environmental conventions, the GEF is also well placed to mobilize the wide range of donor agencies and organizations supporting agriculture and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The GEF financing will build on existing agricultural development and food security initiatives to support improvements in soil and water, diversification of the farming systems, and promote the integration of crop and livestock production. GEF support will also help generate policy options and institutional frameworks that empower rural communities to scale-up successful and adaptive practices for sustainability and resilience of their farms.
About the GEF:
The Global Environment Facility is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. The GEF serves as financial mechanism for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. It also works closely with the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances.
Since 1991, the GEF has provided $12.5 billion in grants and leveraged $58 billion in co-financing for 3,690 projects in 165 developing countries. For 23 years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programs. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP) the GEF has made more than 20,000 grants to civil society and community based organizations for a total of $1 billion.
Among the major results of these investments, the GEF has set up protected areas around the world equal roughly to the area of Brazil; reduced carbon emissions by 2.3 billion tonnes; eliminated the use of ozone depleting substances in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia; transformed the management of 33 major river basins and one-third of the world's large marine ecosystems; slowed the advance of desertification in Africa by improving agricultural practices—and all this while contributing to better the livelihood and food security of millions of people.
Media contact: Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, GEF, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 202 413 4185
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