By Funmi Emmanuel, Abuja.
Twenty-four countries have been shortlisted to benefit from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund’s four new projects worth $16million.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO-managed fund, according to a statement by the United Nations food agency, will span 24 different countries in West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, focusing on youth employment and malnutrition, trans-boundary animal diseases and food safety and urban food security.
It stated that the green light was given at a ceremony during the African Union Summit, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea attended by the country’s President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, a key supporter of the fund; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, and FAO Director-General José
Graziano da Silva said, “In Africa we see the growing commitment of countries not only to improving their own food security, but that of their neighbours as well”, adding “The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is a concrete manifestation of Africa’s willingness to work together to guarantee the food security of the entire continent”.
Also speaking, Ban Ki-moon said “The agreements that have just been signed today are integral to Africa’s goals for revolution in agricultural productivity”.
“I commend the African Union and heads of state who are using the opportunity of the 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa to adopt the resolution of ending hunger by 2025”, he said.
FAO stated that the four new subregional projects formalized today will cover enhancing urban food security in Central Africa by increasing the availability of locally produced food for people living in towns and cities. Recipient countries: Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.
It added that the projects would include promoting greater diversity in agricultural production and activities to improve nutrition and to offer better job prospects to young people in Eastern Africa. Recipient countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Strengthening controls on food safety, plant and animal pests and diseases to boost agricultural productivity and trade in Southern Africa. Recipient countries: Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Creating more and better jobs for young people in West Africa through sustainable aquaculture and Cassava activities, including recipient countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Senegal
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013 as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent. It includes contributions from Equatorial Guinea ($30 million), Angola ($10 million) and a symbolic contribution by civil society organizations in the Republic of the Congo.
Since its inception, the Fund has already provided financing for projects in six countries – Mali, the Niger, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Malawi – including building resilience for conflict affected rural communities, reducing rural poverty through youth employment opportunities and building best practices to increase crop and livestock production.