Kenya: FAO launches food security initiative in Ebola-hit West Africa

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - FAO Wednesday launched a new programme to urgently assist 90,000 vulnerable households in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone whose food supplies and livelihoods are threatened by the disruptive effect the Ebola epidemic, the UN food and agriculture agency, FAO, said in a press statement, received by PANA.

The new programme will pay particular attention to the disruption the epidemic is having on rural economies, agricultural activities and markets.

The Regional Response Programme for West Africa will scale-up the work FAO is currently doing with governments, United Nations partners and local networks of agriculture, veterinary and forestry workers, to help stop the spread of the disease, meet immediate and long-term food and nutrition security needs and build resilience.

FAO is urgently calling for US$ 30 million to support activities linked to the programme over the next 12 months. Programme activities are organized around four key objectives:

•   contribute to saving lives by stopping the spread of the disease through social mobilization, training and awareness raising;

•   boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods;

•   build resilience of communities to disease threats; and

•   strengthen coordination for improved response.

Vincent Martin, Head of FAO's Dakar-based Sub-regional Resilience Hub, the office coordinating FAO’s response, said: “Our comprehensive response is part of overall United Nations efforts to save lives and protect livelihoods."

“We’re following a twin-track approach to help our United Nations partners halt the tragic loss of life while at the same time protecting incomes, nutrition levels and food security,” he said.

Activities include mobilizing communities to reduce their risk of infection through awareness campaigns; boosting food and cash crops, livestock and fisheries production, introducing microfinance strategies to safeguard rural incomes.

It also includes setting up early warning and response systems to reduce Ebola risks at the human-animal interface.

The programme will also ensure that countries are coordinated and resourced by filling gaps in expertise, increasing knowledge sharing on best-practices and building collaborative networks.

“These actions cannot wait,” said Bukar Tijani, Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative, Regional Office for Africa.

“The outbreak is already reducing the purchasing power of vulnerable households, which means less food on their plates and increased nutritional risks for families already on subsistence diets. Fear and stigmatization also threaten to reduce agricultural activities, thereby placing food security at risk,” he said.

Early results from rapid assessments point to a worrisome situation. In Sierra Leone, for example, 47 percent of the respondents said Ebola was considerably disrupting their farming activities.

In Lofa county, the most affected rural county in Liberia, the prices of commodities, including food, increased from 30 to 75 percent just in August 2014.

If not addressed now, the current impact of the outbreak on livelihoods could lead to long-lasting impacts on farmers' livelihoods and rural economies.
-0- PANA DJ/VAO 8Oct2014

08 october 2014 13:06:02




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