In 2010, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) designated 22 countries, the majority in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East, as immersed in protracted crises. Research conducted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) on Arab countries experiencing protracted crises has proven a direct relationship between food security and conflict. The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) aims, through the Global Conference on Agricultural Research (GCARD) and FAO’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Agenda for Action, to address the immediate needs and long-term recovery options of countries facing protracted crises, particularly in West Asia and North Africa.
Protracted crises, defined by the FAO, are regions where a variety of underlying factors lead to food insecurity, the breakdown of governance and local institutions, and, ultimately, unsustainable food and livelihood systems. In 2012, GFAR, FAO, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) identified protracted crises as a priority in solving global food hunger and malnutrition.
These efforts were initiated in early September of that year when participants from 17 of the 22 designated protracted crises countries met in Rwanda to initiate the Kigali Movement and share experiences and lessons to develop a strategy for moving forward with a plan of attack. An article on e.rails, an Africa-based agricultural news site, reported that the meeting “culminated in a set of action plans and initial elements to constitute the basis for a full-fledged project for strengthening agricultural innovation capacity in post-conflict and protracted crises countries.” These outputs were presented at FAO’s High Level Expert Forum (HLEF) on Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises, which, in turn, provided key information to be addressed at CFS 39 the following month.
The discussions that came out of the Kigali Movement and HLEF resulted in the CFS 39 approval of the Agenda for Action to restore stability and resilience in protracted crises countries. The agenda emphasizes the role of country ownership, regional bodies, social institutions, and the private sector in defining causes and developing reform plans. It pushes the role of food security as well as stable, flexible funding in restoring peace and stability in these extremely fragile states. Most importantly, the agenda prioritizes actions with realistic objectives to increase stakeholder accountability and provide both short-term relief and long-term viability.
By combining the Kigali Movement’s mission with the CFS Agenda for Action, GFAR aims to take on some of the most affected areas in North Africa and West Asia. According to GFAR, “GFAR plays a unique role to convene all parties most affected by such crises to exchange information, initiate collaboration, and conduct joint actions.” The goal behind this collaborative approach is to develop concrete plans of actions to be presented and applied to North Africa and West Asia to restore economic, agricultural, and overall community stability. The Agenda for Action will be presented later this year for approval, which will set the stage for GFAR’s next conference, GCARD 3, to be held in 2015.