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According to participants at the Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue hosted by the Government of Rwanda in Kigali on 5-6 August, resilience must be boosted in Africa in response to climate change

5367333294 11355b10a6 zBuilding resilience is one of the main development priorities of FAO in Africa. (Image source: CIAT/Flickr)

The event was hosted in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s deputy director-general, said “Farmers have always been innovators. What they need are policies that protect them and increase their resilience to climate change. They need access to information, technology, and investment, and they should be brought to the conversation on innovation.”

Food and agriculture sectors in Africa are among the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Small-scale farmers, small entrepreneurs and their families, whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed agriculture, are most threatened by climate change.

Building resilience is one of the main development priorities of FAO in Africa. Resilience against multiple threats, including climate change, is a vital prerequisite for sustainable development, particularly when it comes to feeding more than two billion Africans by 2050.

Semedo was speaking at a panel discussion on scaling up investments and policies for food security in response to climate change, alongside African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Sacko, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gilbert Houngbo, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region Hafez Ghanem, and the Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Martin Fregene.

According to the latest FAO data, hunger is on the rise in almost all African sub-regions making Africa the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, at almost 20 per cent. The situation is mostly driven by conflict and climate change and is especially critical in Eastern Africa, where 30.8 per cent (133mn people) are struggling to have enough to eat.

Conference participants heard that it is possible to adapt to these risks with immediate and bold action focused on resilience.

The event’s goal is to facilitate engagement between governments and major development partners to galvanise unified action for African agriculture and food systems in response to climate change. Around 250 people attended the two-day event, including Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.