WASHINGTON (April 18, 2012) -- A new report released today addresses the gap between high-level political commitments to food security and their implementation as G-8 leaders prepare to address the situation in Africa in May. The G-8 nations represent the bulk of development aid, trade, and investment flowing to Africa and, in conjunction with African nations, have the best ability to affect development on the African continent.
Transformational Partnerships in Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, written by a Transatlantic Experts Group, calls for a new vision for development based on partnerships among Africans, Americans, and Europeans from both the public and private sectors to accelerate African development, starting with food security. Recommendations are directed at Africans, Americans, and Europeans alike.
The group is led by former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe and Jean-Michel Severino, the former head of the French Development Agency. The German Marshall Fund of the United States, for which both Kolbe and Severino are senior fellows, organized the group and published the report. Support for the project comes from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
“There is a confluence of factors which make this issue both critical and timely”, said Kolbe. “We are seeing a leveling of agriculture productivity even while world population continues to grow. But no amount of humanitarian aid can solve the problem in the long run. There has to be greater investment, and that means transformational partnerships among donors and with the private sector to assure access to food and proper nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.”
One billion people globally suffer from chronic hunger. The world’s population will jump from seven to nine billion by 2050, increasing pressure on natural resources and fragile societies, which will be exacerbated by food insecurity. Nowhere will these forces be more acutely felt than in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2012 represents the final year of the G-8 L’Aquila commitments, where world leaders pledged $22 billion to address food insecurity. Budget austerity leaves policymakers fewer resources in a time of increased need.
The report outlines how cross-sectoral and donor-to-donor partnerships can help solve food security problems. Effective partnerships can alleviate hunger, build institutions, and foster sustainable economic growth, mutually benefiting transatlantic and African actors.
The report identifies key principles and recommendations that should be embraced when entering into a partnership that increase the chances of shared success. These include recognizing the necessity of long-term, systemic change in order to effect transformation; the importance of leadership; engaging the private sector on manageable, concrete issues with a shared vocabulary and metrics; and adapting a holistic approach that promotes sustainability and participation and does not shy away from experimentation.
Principles and Lessons Learned Agricultural transformation is a long-term process that requires sustained commitment to systemic change by several involved parties working together. Partners must define concrete, iterative steps aimed at clear and common goals with these broader impacts in mind and indicators of progress. It is equally important to establish a culture of learning and adaptation, and a certain level of risk tolerance. Institutionalization of vision is as important as vision itself. Third-party actors such as NGOs, emerging countries, international research institutions, and diaspora communities can often serve as neutral brokers. Early successes can build momentum and gain credibility. Partnerships can generate positive spillover effects for the wider economy, society, or governance.
Recommendations for Transatlantic Policymakers The United States should use its G-8 presidency to raise the profile of “transformational partnerships.” The United States and Europe should also include more countries and sectors in their dialogues on food security. In partnership with African stakeholders, transatlantic partners can help governments streamline regulations, expand entrepreneurship, and build trust between the public and private sectors. The United States and Europe should sponsor programs that build African expertise in agriculture and nutrition. Domestically, the United States and Europe should allow for flexibility in agriculture programming and reconcile conflicting trade and development policies.
Recommendations for African Policymakers It is ultimately the responsibility of Africans to enact policies that will increase food security. Improvements must be made to the business climate in order to increase investment in the agriculture sector. Safety net programs must be implemented or strengthened to complement these efforts and address the needs of high-risk populations. Effective grain stock management must be utilized to not only help with food emergencies and shortages, but also to alleviate pressures to employ trade restrictions. The urban population must be incorporated into any food security strategy, especially given the acceleration of the urbanization that accompanies agricultural transformation. Nutrition should be more integrated into food security strategies because food quality matters. Regional groupings such as the East African Community (EAC) need to fulfill commitments to unlocking regional markets and trade through the alignment of standards and improved cross-border infrastructure.
Recommendations for Joint Action Collective, coordinated action amplifies the impact of any one actor’s efforts. Joint action should be concentrated on helping small-scale farmers become medium-sized farmers and develop profitable business enterprises at every stage of the agricultural value chain. Partnerships can help advance models like “hub and out-grower” schemes that connect smallholders to more sustainable business-oriented activities. Formal partnerships between these farmers and larger-scale commercial farmers working through producers’ associations and other platforms must be facilitated. Women play a critical role in African agriculture, so policies must pay particular attention to that group. African and transatlantic partners should enable South-South exchanges, with countries like Brazil, China, and India, to share knowledge and proven practices. Joint action to improve African financial and banking practices can unlock access to capital to farmers, agri-business, and small- and medium-sized enterprises across the continent.
Recommendations to Build Knowledge, Foster Learning, and Sustain Partnerships Investments should be made to build strong agricultural and socio-economic statistical systems to inform evidence-based decision-making and monitoring of progress. Development partners should increase the capacity of African-based think tanks, business associations, and other African-owned partnership platforms. In addition to building government capacity at the national and federal level, efforts should also be made to ensure that local government officials have the resources to implement policies and programs. Development agencies need to foster a culture of learning that incentivizes innovation and allows for change and adjustment. Lessons from public-private partnerships in other sectors should be leveraged to help build this capacity in the agriculture sector.
Published by The German Marshall Fund of the United States