Drought / East Africa / Ethiopia / Event / Food Security / ILRI / Kenya / Pastoralism / Somalia / Vulnerability

‘It’s not drought, but vulnerability to drought, that’s eroding food security in the Horn’–USAID’s Jeff Hill

CGIAR Consortium Media Briefing at ILRI in Nairobi 1 Sep 2011

Jeff Hill, Director of Policy at the Bureau of Food Security, at the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), speaks at a news briefing on ‘Research Options for Mitigating Drought-induced Food Crises,’ 1 Sep 2011 (photo credit: ILRI/Samuel Mungai).

Mark Tran reports in the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog on yesterday’s meeting of experts on the Horn of Africa at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya. He says these professionals concluded that underinvestment in livestock-based systems in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have contributed to the extreme food insecurity in the Horn of Africa.

This meeting was organized by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR).

Jeff Hill, director for policy at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said “It is not drought, but vulnerability to drought that is eroding food security in these areas . . . and this vulnerability is a result of chronic under-investment. This is particularly true for the livestock-based systems which are and will be a dominant part of the arid and semi-arid lands.”

‘. . . Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (Cgiar), agreed on the importance of livestock in the current crisis.

Livestock provides more food security than growing crops in many arid and semi-arid areas,” he told the meeting. “The food crisis in the Horn is essentially a livestock crisis.”. . .

‘The G20 group of leading economies meet later this month in Montpellier, France, to discuss priorities for global food security, following a G20 agriculture summit in Paris in June. . . .

‘The ILRI, based in Nairobi, is a proponent of pastoralism and asserts that herding in dry areas makes better economic sense than irrigation.

‘About 70 million people live in arid lands, and many of them are herders. In Kenya, the pastoral livestock sector is estimated at $800m. The best way to prevent famine in arid lands, argues the institute, is to ensure herders have access to critical dry-season grazing and watering areas. Obstacles to the movement of their herds is the greatest problem for pastoralists, it says.

‘Hill acknowledged government neglect of the interests of pastoralists and said this neglect had to be addressed. “It’s unclear who cares about them,” he said. “There should be a coalition of support, the question of governments is why they should prioritise dry land areas. What we need to do is to build a coalition for pastoralists for a long-term agenda.” . . .

Le Page said ‘Modest investments in agricultural research that allow the world’s most vulnerable people to take charge of their food security are far less expensive than constantly parachuting in food aid and humanitarian assistance.’

Read the whole article at the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog: Investment in pastoralists could help combat east Africa food crisis, 2 Sep 2011.

Read more about the event: http://consortium.cgiar.org/HOA

The CGIAR is a strategic partnership dedicated to advancing science to reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience. Its research is carried out by 15 international agricultural research centers in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. www.cgiar.org www.consortium.cgiar.org

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