Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 October 2020:
Ten African Heads of State have issued a strong call to other world leaders to increase their funding to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) or risk jeopardizing Sustainable Development Goal targets for eradicating poverty and hunger, particularly in Africa.
“We share IFAD’s vision of vibrant rural communities where people live free from poverty and hunger,” wrote the leaders of of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo in letters to their counterparts in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.
“Investing in building the resilience of rural people is now more important than ever in order to secure food supplies, safeguard rural livelihoods, ensure that progress made over the years is not lost and prevent more rural people from falling into poverty and hunger”.
Right now, Africa is addressing conflict, changing weather patterns, pests and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. Hunger levels on the continent are twice the world average.
IFAD is the only multilateral development organization that is soley dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. In the letters, the African leaders called for a significant increase in contributions to IFAD’s Twelfth Replenishment (IFAD12) – a year-long consultative process during which Member States come together to agree on strategic directions and mobilize funds for IFAD to provide as concessional loans and grants to developing countries.
“This support from the African Heads of State is a testimony to the real impact IFAD is having on the lives and livelihoods of rural people in these countries,” said Marie Haga, IFAD’s Associate Vice President for External Relations and Governance. “Their support demonstrates the importance of investing in rural areas to achieve national food security, environmental sustainability and economic development which has a monumental impact on global stability and resilience.”
About 75 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. In the letters, the African leaders highlight the immense potential of African agriculture and the strong evidence that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty.
IFAD aims to deliver an overall programme of work of US$10 billion for the IFAD12 period (2022–2024), with over half of investments allocated to Africa. This would help more than 140 million small-scale producers increase their production and raise their incomes through better market access and resilience, contributing to creating jobs and improving food security and nutrition for those most at risk of being left behind.
“A successful replenishment has the potential to unlock billions of dollars in financing to transform rural economies and food systems around the world, as well as enable IFAD to double its impact by 2030 and contribute to ending poverty and hunger,” wrote the leaders.
As the pandemic sweeps across the world, the poor and the vulnerable are those who suffer most, among them rural women, young people and small-scale farmers. Faced with the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic and the impact of prolonged drought and locust infestation, the African leaders called to collectively reaffirm the world’s commitment to end hunger.
The only way Africa can minimize hunger like China which has one billion people is through education, which will definitely be transformed into industrial farming. Mechanized farming is minimal in our sub region because our subsistence farmers are considered as paupers and most of our citizens hate to belong to that category. Lack of fertilizers is a serious problem which limits production to only seasons. Preservation of farming products whether it’s Animals or Plants is also serious challenge based on the fact that refrigeration or some chemical products are unavailable for the preservation of perishable goods.
Technology of smoking and salting some of our foods should be enhanced because of limited electricity supplies in rural areas. Hopefully, the Free Quality Education will produce some future mechanized farmers that will help change the current perception about our local farmers.
Long term rural sustainable development goals across the African continent can only be achieved, if African governments are prepared to invest in rural communities, which makes up the vast majority of their population. African governments calling on their international partners to invest in the continent makes good economic sense. But first African governments should lead the way in terms of prioritising rural communities as the engine of economic growth, especially in promoting agriculture and protecting the environment. Since the end of the cold war, there has been massive developments taking place across the continent.
This achievement is not one size fit all. For some countries like Sierra Leone, democracy and human rights are working in progress. And President Bio adding his voice in calling on our international partners to invest more in our rural communities is welcome. So far his government have shown its lack of commitment to rural development. And Sierra Leone rural communities almost make up 57% of the our population. His government needs to invest in good roads, health care, technology, education and training, increase transportation link between rural communities and towns and cities. Otherwise his call will fall on deaf ears. May God bless Sierra Leone.
In our quest to shape a sustainable development agenda for the years beyond 2020, the international community in Africa has embarked upon an unprecedented process. Never has so broad and inclusive we have undertaken a consultation on so many matters of Sierra Leone’s concern. In the two short years since the New Direction on Sustainable Development laid the cornerstone for the post-2018 sustainable development process, all Members of Parliament, the entire Sierra Leone system of government experts, and a cross-section of civil society, business, and millions of people from all corners of the country have committed themselves to this crucially important journey.
This is the reason for great hope. The creativity and shared sense of purpose that has emerged across the human family is proof that we in Sierra Leone can come together to innovate and collaborate in pursuit of solutions and the universal good.