Friday, March 23, 2012

Meeting set to discuss unending cycle of drought and food insecurity in Africa

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Experts and leading thinkers in agriculture, climate change and the environment will gather in Nairobi from April 10-13 at the World Agroforesty Centre.
They will review innovative ways to tackle Africa’s unending cycle of drought and food insecurity. The meeting, Beating Famine, comes in the wake of another food crisis sweeping across the Sahel region of Africa, through Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
The conference, a joint initiative by World Vision and the World Agroforestry Centre, will bring together policy-makers from across Africa, leading agriculture/food security/environment experts, international NGOs, donors, academia, practitioners and the media.
“The world watched as millions suffered from famine in the Horn of Africa last year and now that suffering is spreading to parts of West Africa,” said conference organiser Rob Francis. “These crises are calling for a long-term sustainable approach to food insecurity and famine, and we believe the answer lies with a greater emphasis on the environment and better agricultural practices.”
It will focus on practical, low cost and proven techniques to reverse land degradation and deforestation, lift incomes, adapt and mitigate against climate change, and ultimately prevent famine.
 According to Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands Ambassador and senior fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre, “The national planning segment of the conference will be particularly significant. Governments and NGOs throughout the East African region are now partnering to implement national scaling-up programmes to create an evergreen agriculture based on smallholder adoption of trees for enhanced soil fertility, and fodder, fruit and fuelwood production. Accelerating the widespread use of these practices would have an enormous impact.”
“In essence, we hope to spark a regreening movement that transforms thinking across the world,” said World Vision East Africa climate change and environment specialist Assefa Tofu. “Governments, development organisations and also the community must learn to see the power of simple, effective environmental techniques as a new way of tackling hunger.”
Various presentations will be made at the conference by high level delegates, as well field trips and demonstrations.
A demonstration of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) will be conducted by FMNR pioneer Tony Rinaudo on Friday April 13 in Kijabe, Kenya. FMNR has helped make great advances for the food security and economic sustainability of farmers in eight countries across Africa and three in Asia.

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