On Thursday 18th November 2021, The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and, in close collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), hosted the High-Level Event on Promoting Inclusive Rural Transformation in Africa: Evidence in favour of improved coherence between social protection and rural development policy.The High-Level Policy dialogue attended by the Ministers of Agriculture from four African countries Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mali and Zambia.
Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko African Union Commissioner Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment, opened the Meeting and affirmed that resource mobilization from different partners would be key for countries to bounce back better from COVID-19. Pathways include strengthening and expanding evidence based approaches that inform government investment in social protection policies and rural transformation.
On her part, Ms. Sara Mbago-Bhunu Regional Director of East and Southern Africa IFAD noted that investment in agriculture would play great role in increasing production and productivity and acceleration towards zero hunger. IFAD had invested more than USD 183 million to African government to promote social protection and resilience of small holders to the impact of COVID-19 She further noted that close to USD2 Billion of IFAD investment across the globe has targeted social protection.
For FAO, Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa affirmed FAO’s commitment to achievement of the goals of ending hunger and malnutrition, as well as the capacity to address existing and emerging challenges in Africa that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
FAO insisted that accelerating progress towards rural poverty reduction and achieving Sustainable Development Goals require innovation and multi-sectoral perspectives. Prioritizing coherence between rural development and social protection policies is a necessary component of such innovation, especially needed to enhance the productive capacity of poor and vulnerable small-scale farmers.
RUFORUM committed to work with all parties, countries in Africa, the FAO, development partners and to take forward the social protection and cohesion policy agenda for agricultural rural transformation.
The High level Policy dialogue, which brought together over 200 participants from Government, UN, Academics, Civil Society, Private Sector and Communities, underlined that strong and coherent interventions between productive programs and social protection in a broad context of rural development can quickly improve the situation of the most vulnerable by protecting them from crises as well as minimizing productive risks.
Pertinent to the discussion was the need for policy interface and coherence, between social assistance grants and agricultural transformation in Africa. With the advent of COVID-19, social protection and productive interventions will play a key role in supporting Africa’s economic inclusion, resilience and recovery process. Ultimately, when policies speak to each other they promote livelihood and food & nutrition security. Thus, the harmonisation of policies was presented as one of the pathways for Africa to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.