Strategic Area 3 : Improving access to food, nutrition and resilience of vulnerable populations

Increasing production and improving the functioning of markets are two fundamental dimensions of food security and food sovereignty. But chronic food insecurity in West Africa is primarily due to poor access to food and a combination of factors that affect the nutritional status of children, pregnant and lactating women, and elderly people. These difficulties stem from (i) low incomes (in rural and urban areas); (ii) lack of capital (mainly land and livestock) to generate enough home-made or marketed products; (iii) disparities in access to basic social services (health, education, access to drinking water and sanitation) in rural areas, which have a significant impact on malnutrition, despite notable progress made during the last15 years. Finally, successive shocks a large proportion of the rural population in the Sahelian and Sudano-Sahelian zones is subject to, provoke major conjunctural crises that affect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households and gradually reduce their capacity to cope with the subsequent shocks.

This area 3 therefore, deals with these dimensions of food and nutrition insecurity, both in its structural or chronic and cyclical dimensions.

These concerns have been important since the 2008 food crisis, especially in Sahelian countries. However, there are still large disparities between countries in terms of alert capacity and especially crisis response. International humanitarian agencies and development ones are very active on these issues and on innovations introduced in crisis management, with major problems of coordination of interventions and sustainability of experienced innovations (including cash transfers). There is therefore a strong need for ownership by member States and for building a collective capacity in West Africa to address these issues.

This area includes support for the promotion of social safety nets oriented towards food security and nutrition, States and national actors capacity building as well as the sharing of knowledge and good practices in these areas, promotion of nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, vulnerable household resilience programs, development of information and early warning systems, promotion of crisis response capacities, and in particular the implementation of the regional safety storage strategy, including the regional food security reserve, national and local stocks.