“Despite significant gains, the fight against food insecurity is not yet won. Undeniably, today’s food crises are better controlled, thanks in particular to tools for the prevention and management of food crises developed by the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and its partners, but many people still suffer from chronic food insecurity,” said the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Luc Adolphe Tiao, during his opening speech at the Knowledge Share Fair on resilience to food and nutrition insecurity for people in the Sahel and West Africa.

The Fair was held from 5 to 7 November 2013 in Ouagoudougou by the CILSS, in collaboration FAO and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and its seven members, under the political auspice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

More than 200 participants from 20 African countries, institutions as well as technical and financial partners showed their commitment towards strengthening resilience and improving food and nutrition security.

The Share Fair is used as a place to exchange experiences and create dialogue in order to increase the knowledge of public and private actors of measures and practices used to improve the resilience of Sahelian and West African populations.

The three main objectives are:

share knowledge of programmes, policies and strategies best suited to the two subregions;
promote good practices on resilience at the national and subregional levels; and strengthen existing networks and partnerships.

Share knowledge and build on existing lessons learned for effective action

The exchange of good practices among key stakeholders in the subregion and those from the Horn of Africa, as well as their implementation through substantial investments, can contribute to significantly improving the food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable populations. Prime Minister Tiao therefore stated that he was confident in the will of the governments and the people of Sahelian countries to achieve resilience. “We have the means and resources, it is a matter of determination and political will,” he noted in his welcoming speech.

The activities undertaken by CILSS, IGAD and FAO, with support from technical and financial partners particularly for the dissemination of knowledge, can greatly contribute to strengthening resilience and eradicating hunger in arid and semi-arid regions by 2020.

Breaking the vicious cycle of crises and disasters

“With the tools for the prevention and management of food crises developed by CILSS and its technical and financial partners, including FAO, food crises in the Sahel are more readily anticipated and better managed,” stressed Dr. Djimé Adoum, Executive Secretary of CILSS.

In a similar tone, Mr. Lamourdia Thiombiano, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, noted that, “rehabilitating and restoring the autonomy of affected populations through increased production and control of marketing channels are necessary conditions to free the Sahel and the Horn of Africa from the vicious cycle of crises and disasters.”

Strategic and inclusive partnerships supporting these activities are key factors to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations, particularly concerning the Zero Hunger in West Africa Initiative by ECOWAS and the EU-led Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR) in the Sahel and West Africa.