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IFSN regional planning meeting kicks off in Banjul

Jun 21, 2016, 11:06 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Promoting regional partnership to strengthen food security and sustainability was the theme of a three-day regional planning meeting organised by the National Alliance for Food Security (NAFS), a member of the West Africa Food Security Network (WAFSN) and the International Food Security Network (IFSN).

The meeting hosted by Action Aid The Gambia and held at Lemon Creek Hotel in Bijilo, brought together participants from the IFSN International Secretariat, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and The Gambia.

The meeting was held to share lessons learnt from the activities implemented in 2015, and to develop and finalise plans for IFSN West Africa country programme.

In his welcoming remarks, Momodou Wuri Jallow, programme specialist of food rights and IFSN focal point, said WAFSN is an integral part of the IFSN, which is a global project seeking to leverage civil society groups’ influence on advocating for pro-poor food security policies at local, national and international levels.

According to him, it is a policy advocacy and networking project co-founded by the European Commission (EC) and Action-Aid.

Since its inception in 2009, IFSN successfully combines the voices of more than 1400 small and national level organisations working on food security in about 30 countries spread in the 5 continents with more than a million people.

Mr Jallow further said that in The Gambia Action-Aid is the focal point and works with the National Alliance for Food Security (NAFS) as the implementing agency.

He added that NAFS is constituted by 11 food security-based organisations that work in all the regions of The Gambia.

“AAITG and NAFS have over the years engaged in advocacy through community capacity-building and information sharing on key issues related to food security,” Mr Jallow further said.

He added that the meeting is expected to help in reviewing the programme and activities as well as facilitate in outlining the next steps towards the end of the project in the 4-country programme in West Africa including Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and The Gambia.

In his remarks on the occasion, Zakaria Sambakhe of Action Aid Senegal said the meeting was also held to discuss the future of West Africa as a region with real engagement of farmer organisations’ representatives such as CNCR, Roppa, CSO, National Alliance for Food Security, youth association, activists, women farmers’ associations and others.

He also said West Africa remains one of the poorest regions in the world, representing approximately 35 per cent of the region’s GDP and 60 per cent of the active labour force.

He said the agriculture sector is committed to achieving food security and broad-based economic growth in West Africa.

He stated that access to food by sub-Saharan households has been undermined by the inability of countries to generate the resources required to import food, due to high and increasing level of poverty.

He said despite these challenges, the West Africa region is well positioned to advance in economic growth and resilience with stability.

He said the meeting is timely since various stakeholders from The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal and Bangladesh would agree on how best to promote food security and right to food for all.

In declaring the meeting open, the regional agriculture Director for West Coast Region, Kaddy Bojang Saidy, said the need to strengthen and improve women right to land in Africa has ignited a lot of complex debates over the years with women activists calling for women increased access to land and other productive resources.

She said women produce more than 80 per cent of food in Africa yet own only 1 per cent of the land, adding that improving access to and control over land is seen by many as crucial to enhancing food security and reducing poverty.