“COVID-19 could not have come at a worse time for vulnerable communities across West Africa” - FAO

In this interview, we speak with Coumba Sow, FAO Resilience Coordinator for West Africa, about the COVID-19 pandemic and what it could mean for millions of people already grappling with hunger and conflict in West Africa.

West Africa and the Sahel region in particular have long been prone to droughts and food shortages, and over the past decade, rising insecurity. How is the situation now?

This is a complex region - hit by chronic hunger, insecurity, climate change, the threats of a Desert Locust outbreak, and now the pandemic. Year after year, five out of the ten countries at the bottom of the UN Development Index are in West Africa.

Right now, we are particularly concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Central Sahel - comprised of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Some four million people here are already facing extreme hunger and this could rise to 5.5 million people by August. Just to put it in perspective - by August, in Burkina Faso, over two million people could be facing extreme hunger, and at the worst time - as the lean season sets in and food becomes scarcer. This number is three times higher than last year during the same period.

Across West Africa, as of April, over 11 million people need immediate food assistance - mostly due to conflict. And this number will continue rising, potentially reaching 17 million during the lean season (June- August) if we don't respond fast.

Many people are not only hungry. They are also uprooted and have lost what they had. The ones I spoke to had the same story - of villages attacked; of family members killed or displaced; of homes or fields destroyed; of animals abandoned or killed.

As of now, some 1.2 million people have been displaced in Central Sahel. If the conflict persists, more people will suffer the same fate.

According to the 2020 Global Food Crisis report, increasing violence, displacements and disrupted agriculture and trade in tandem with adverse climate in West Africa and Sahel countries will worsen acute food insecurity conditions in many areas this year.

COVID-19 could not have come at a worse time for vulnerable communities across West Africa.


Who is most at risk from COVID-19?

First of all: children. Malnutrition rates in the Sahel are one of the highest in the world. Some 2.5 million children - more than a quarter in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger - suffer from severe and acute malnutrition.

As mothers and children are the hardest hit, in general, they will also suffer the most during  the pandemic.

Those who are already hungry, or already hungry and displaced, will be at extreme risk.

The key issue to highlight is that the pandemic is expanding during crucial months for this region - when people need to plant, move with their animals. Farmers need to be able to sell their current produces but also access fields and markets to prepare for the main 2020/2021 agricultural season. Pastoralists or nomadic herders need to move with their animals. Governments and humanitarian actors need to assist people requiring urgent food, nutritional and emergency support during the lean season.

For centuries, nomadic herders across the Sahel have moved hundreds of miles every year to find pasture for their herds. This is something they do each year, especially during April-May as pastures become drier.

Many Mauritanian herders, for example, head to Mali and Senegal in search of pasture.

But, as borders close, nomadic herders are no longer able to move in search of fodder and water or to trade - animals can be traded for other foods or essential items.

This can lead to herders losing their income as they can't sell their animals or buy what they need for them as well as potentially losing animals as some of them might not survive or might fall ill. When animals suffer, people suffer. When animals die or stop being a source of milk or meat, people go hungry. When animals are lost, so are people's livelihoods.

Farmers will also be affected by COVID-19 due to a lower supply of fertilizers and seeds, the closure of stores and markets, and reduced assistance.

The pandemic - if it spreads further - will translate into increasing threats: from more displacements to less and less access to basic social services, higher food prices, less food.

Are COVID-19's impacts on people's food security already being felt in West Africa?

Governments have taken measures such as physical distancing and closure of markets. These will result in market disruptions, whether for traders or buyers.

COVID-19's impacts are already seen in the pastoral areas. As most borders are closed, movements of herders and animals have been restricted.

Although the pandemic's impact on primary products' prices are not yet discernible, the fact that many people are buying main commodities in bulk could lead to a temporary increase in costs and shortages, which will be difficult to manage as/if production drops. Transport is also already affected, which will impact on food and products' supply.

How is FAO responding?

As most of West Africa is already affected by other complex crises, our first priority is to safeguard and maintain our current emergency response, especially activities supporting the upcoming agricultural campaign, which will help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security.

Doing so will be particularly challenging given the operational difficulties due to the movement restrictions introduced by most countries. However, working closely with governments, the UN family, and partners, we are recalibrating and finding ways to deliver.

Our response across the region is only funded at 20 percent, however. We urge donors and partners to ensure that the ongoing emergencies, on top of COVID-19, are not forgotten.

In response to COVID-19, FAO has been collecting information and carrying out analysis, at regional and country level, on the pandemic's likely consequences on agriculture and food security, which will feed into a global data facility. This is informing the development of national and a regional strategies as well as country specific COVID-19 preparedness and response plans. Several actions in these plans are already being implemented.

In Burkina Faso, FAO is launching a program, thanks to support from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to provide immediate assistance to vulnerable households living in quarantine in urban and peri-urban areas so they can access healthy and nutritious food.

Read more...

Go back

Partners News

19th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) July 5-8, 2022, in Libreville, Gabon: Registration has been extended to June 01, 2022!

If you wish to attend the 19th MoP of the CBFP and related events, please register before June 02, 2022 by completing the form below and clicking on the button “register”. It will not be possible to attend the meeting without a properly completed registration procedure.

Registration opens for exhibitors at the CBFP MOP 19 Exhibition Centre

We are pleased to hereby inform you that exhibition registration for the CBFP MoP19 is open. The exhibition space offers your organization the opportunity to present your work, initiatives, projects and expertise to the participants of the MoP19. Exhibitors are able to rent a stand package at set prices with options for customization and additional equipment. To register as Exhibitor at the 19th Meeting of Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), please fill out this form online before May 30, 2022.

Environment and Peace Call for Proposals

PeaceNexus is launching a call for proposals on embedding conflict sensitivity in environmental organisations. Environmental organisations are at the forefront of addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. In doing so, they grapple with conflict dynamics, face risks to their staff and partners, but also provide opportunities for divided groups to work together around issues of common concern. The deadline for application is Tuesday 21st June 2022.

19th Meeting of the Parties, July 5-8, 2022, in Libreville, Gabon: Registration is closing on May 20, 2022!

This is a reminder that registrations for the 19th Meeting of Parties (MoP) of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership in Libreville, Gabon, from 5 to 8 July 2022 are CLOSING IN 2 DAYS. Please note, that you can only attend with a completed registration. Please register here...

Mongolia flood defence project shows the way for urban adaptation - The Green Climate Fund

Mongolia flood defence project shows the way for urban adaptation. The project incorporates infrastructural upgrades with the formation of community action groups to improve the capital’s flood resilience . A project in Mongolia, which incorporates a wide range of initiatives and aims to build the resilience of high-risk communities, is directly confronting the burden of urban climate impacts.

 

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board holds second meeting of 2022

The 32nd meeting of the GCF Board is taking place in person in Antigua and Barbuda from May 16-19. The meeting, one of four scheduled this year, follows on the heels of the first Board meeting where USD 187.7 million was approved for new climate projects and major changes to GCF’s accreditation framework were approved.  The changes aim to accelerate climate finance for developing countries and include strengthening the existing accreditation model and introducing the project-specific assessment approach (PSAA).

Expert meeting on the EU Regulation on deforestation-free products – FERN

The proposed EU Regulation on deforestation-free products aims to ensure goods cannot be placed on the EU market if they have caused deforestation, forest degradation, or violated producer country laws. The Commission released a draft proposal of the Regulation on 17 November 2021, and now the European Parliament (EP) and the Council must agree on their positions. On 24 March 2022, the EP rapporteur Luxembourgish Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Christophe Hansen of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), released his draft response.

New International Maritime Organization guidelines to combat wildlife smuggling – TRAFFIC

Global shipping to focus on bringing down the illegal networks exploiting maritime supply chains to traffic wildlife. On the 13 of May 2022, the 46th Meeting of the Facilitation Committee (FAL46) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted new ‘Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the Smuggling of Wildlife on Ships Engaged in International Maritime Traffic’.

Brief Highlights Role for Human Rights-based Approach to Achieve SDG 6 - IISD

Fifty years after the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, which put “health and sanitation” on the international agenda, ensuring water and sanitation for all “remains one of the world’s biggest challenges.” A ‘Still Only One Earth’ policy brief from IISD argues that for universal access to become a reality,

UNCCD’s Global Land Outlook Calls for “Activating” Land Restoration Agenda – IISD

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has issued the second edition of its flagship report titled, ‘Global Land Outlook: Land Restoration for Recovery and Resilience’ (GLO2). The publication outlines various future land scenarios, and highlights the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and human health, among other SDGs.

World Congress Urges Shared Responsibility Over Forests for Multiple SDGs – IISD

Delegates at the 15th meeting of the World Forestry Congress (XV WFC) called for immediate action to protect forests, forestry, and forest stakeholders as providers of nature-based solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, hunger, and poverty. They encouraged “actions for a green, healthy and resilient future with forests” as a contribution to the SDGs, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

FAO Flagship Outlines Forest Pathways for Tackling Planetary Crises - IISD

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has launched its biennial flagship report on the state of the world’s forests (SOFO), which explores three intertwined forest pathways to achieve green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, among other “multidimensional planetary crises.”

Desertification and Drought Day Calls for New Social Contract for Nature – IISD

A high-level panel marked Desertification and Drought Day 2020 with a discussion focused on the Day’s theme, ‘Food. Feed. Fibre,” and the question, “Is it time for a new social contract for nature?” Ministers and agency heads offered recommendations for addressing vulnerabilities for land management that have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and options for building back better.

The XV World Forestry Congress was held in Seoul from May 2 to 6 – ATIBT

Convening under the theme “Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests,” the Fifteenth meeting of the World Forestry Congress (XV WFC) sought to define the role of forests in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other major agreements, including the Global Forest Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Ministerial call for sustainable timber at the World Forestry Congress in Seoul – ATIBT

At the end of the XV World Forestry Congress held in Seoul from May 2 to 6, 8 ministers signed a text calling for the production and consumption of sustainable wood. Sustainable production and consumption of wood promotes forest conservation, enhances the value of forests and mitigates climate change. Building and living with wood responds to an increased demand for renewable materials and provides impetus for green recovery.

The 1st edition of the Forest Conservation Job Day organized on May 6, 2022 by ERAIFT (DRC) – ATIBT

The Forest Conservation Job Day took place online, on Friday May 6th 2022. This Forest Conservation Job day, which was in its first edition, was co-organised by ERAIFT and the association of its alumni gathered within the « Réseau Africain pour le Développement Durable et Intégré (RADDI) ». The Participants to this event were former ERAIFT students and students from the 3rd and 4th Master's classes actually in training.

The ATIBT welcomes the company Gilmour & Aitken, located in Scotland

The Board of Directors of the ATIBT validated the membership application of this trading and sawing Gilmour & Aitken Ltd are suppliers and stock holders of a comprehensive range of high quality sawn and engineered hardwood and softwood timber products.   Established in 1852 and now in its 5th generation, the business prides itself on its product expertise, stock range and customer service.

COP 15 : World leaders at the Abidjan summit on desertification unanimously agree time to safeguard the future of land is now – CAN

Heads of States and governments at the fifteenth session of the Conference of Parties(COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) have made a clarion call to the international community to take urgent measures to avert loss of live and source of livelihood threatening the world today as result of the devastating effects of desertification, land degradation and drought.

Monrovia Calling – FERN

A consortium of investigative journalists in Liberia are shining a spotlight on the country’s forest sector – with some remarkable results. Starting at 4pm every Thursday, one of Liberia’s best-known radio stations, OK FM 99.5, broadcasts a live one-hour show that’s possibly the only one of its kind in the world.

Forests and Indigenous land rights will be key in Brazil’s upcoming general election – FERN

In early April 2022, I had the chance to travel to Brazil to consult with Fern’s partners and attend the yearly Free Land Camp organised by Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous Peoples (APIB) in Brasilia. This trip gave me a snapshot of where the people with whom we work stand in this crucial year for the country.

European biomass industry confirms it is burning large amounts of “low-quality stemwood” (tree trunks) – FERN

On 5 April, the Forest Defenders Alliance published an impactful visual investigation, revealing that “many wood-burning power plants and wood pellet manufacturing plants in the EU appear to be using trees logged directly from forests, despite claims to use sawdust and other mill waste for fuel and feedstock”. Surprisingly, industry confirmed the report’s findings, proving the importance of ensuring that the EU’s renewed Renewable Energy Directive (RED) takes a strong line on which types of material should, and should not be burnt.

Parliament could still push for ambitious forest climate policy – FERN

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis and the importance of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land use and forestry, some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Member States and private actors continue to try to downgrade climate ambition. In upcoming votes about the proposed Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation, there are hopes that the European Parliament will set a more positive course.  

State of the Forest 2021 Report presented in the COMIFAC Pavilion during the World Forestry Congress - A product of the German CBFP Facilitation

The "State of the Forests" report is a flagship product of the CBFP partners' efforts, especially of the EU, which is the main donor of OFAC.  The production of this report remains a major challenge for each CBFP Facilitation. We are there!!! The State of the Forest 2021 (SOF 2021) report is the seventh in the series published since 2005. The previous report was released in 2015 at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris.

World Forestry Congress: “Scaling up forest landscape restoration in the central Africa” at COMIFAC-ECCAS Pavilion Initiatives

Seoul (Republic of Korea) World Forest Congress, 5 Mai 2022 – at COMIFAC-ECCAS Pavilion Initiatives, a special session was organized on “Accelerating and Scaling up forest landscape restoration under the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 in the central Africa”. The Session was moderated by the German CBFP Facilitation and had as panelists IUCN and the African Union (NEPAD/AFR100).

IUCN Africa Protected Area Congress at the heart of the COMIFAC-ECCAS Pavilion Initiative at the 15th World Forestry Congress

Seoul (Republic of Korea) World Forest Congress, 5 Mai 2022 – IUCN Africa Protected Area Congress was presented by Mr. KARANGWA Charles Regional Head of Land Systems and Country Representative, IUCN Rwanda, in a special hybrid session in the COMIFAC-ECCAS Pavilion.

Helping forest and farm producers through hard times – FAO

Welfare support for forest and farm producers has become even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it wrecked economies and livelihoods across the globe. But the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF) has stepped up to the plate. Over the course of 2021, more than 56,000 forest and farm producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America received food aid, hygiene products or government social protection schemes thanks to the work of FFF-supported forest and farm producer organizations (FFPOs).

West Africa exchange visits to empower women in fisheries value chains – FAO

Women fish processors and sellers learn new techniques from their colleagues in order to make their jobs safer and their products more competitive 4 April, Abidjan/Dakar/Praia/Rome - The FAO Coastal Fisheries Initiative in West Africa (CFI-WA) has organized three exchange visits aimed at strengthening the role of women in fisheries value chains in Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, and Senegal.

As forests fall, Zambians race to find alternatives to logging – GEF

Located in Zambia’s North-Western Province, the greater Kafue National Park and West Lunga ecosystem complex was once home to an abundance of ancient rosewood trees and a host of other endemic and endangered species. Now, aerial views reveal slabs of fallen trees peppering black holes in the green forest canopy. Fenced clearings open up to piles of orange rosewood, stacked high in the grounds of a sawmill

WFC - Side Event CBFP/CAFI: Saving our planet’s second-largest lung – How the Congo Basin contributes to protecting global climate and threatened biodiversity and how it should be supported

Join this discussion on Calls for a “Fair Deal” that addresses the protection, sustainable use, and good governance of the central African Forest ecosystems of the Congo basin by the riparian countries of COMIFAC in exchange for an adequate share of international climate and biodiversity funds. Wednesday 4th May 2022, SEOUL, 5:30 PM KST - 7:00 PM KST Where:  Room. E5. Third floor.

Exhibition at MOP19: registration will be open soon!

We are pleased to hereby inform you that exhibition registration for the CBFP MoP19 will be open soon. The exhibition space offers your organization the opportunity to present your work, initiatives, projects and expertise to the participants of the MoP19. Exhibitors will be able to rent a stand package at set prices with options for customization and additional equipment.

Thousands of pastoralists seek refuge in Waza National Park, Cameroon

Our investigation found that at the height of the clashes between fishers and pastoralists on 9 December, Shuwa Arab elders consulted each other and contacted Park guards by phone before deciding to enter the Park. The following day, Shuwa Arab men, women and children walked 20 km to the centre of the Park, continuing 2 days later to a nearby waterhole. There they were initially summoned by the Park warden to leave the Park but allowed to stay to recover from their journey. After 1 week, pastoralists continued through the inundated part of the Park to the north-east where they stayed until 20 January, when all but two of the 17 groups left the Park. The Park offered safety for the pastoralists, but the conditions were harsh for families and livestock, resulting in considerable loss of sheep and donkeys; three cattle were predated by lions.