A3 – Building food systems for security and conflict reduction in Africa

Climate change,  population growth, urbanisation and market dynamics are likely to affect future food security levels the coming decades, especially in dryland regions. This session, focusing on African drylands,  will address links between food security and stability, exploring strategies to develop urban-rural food systems in order to reduce the increasing food security risks and improve the economic perspectives for both the rural and urban populations. A roundtable discussion, based on the presentations from scientific, policy and practical background and the experiences of the audience, will help to identify promising building blocks and essential requirements for developing the required food systems. 

Africa’s population is the fastest growing population in the world and already by 2030, the continent is expected to reach a tipping point, when the majority of the region’s population will live in urban areas.[1] The strong population growth with a large share of young adults in combination with a high likelihood of water stress and low income per capita may affect food security, migration and local conflicts in Africa. The weak link between smallholders and urban consumers is the main hurdle in improving food security in both rural and urban areas according to the FAO. Strengthening rural-urban linkages can help drive economic development and improvements in food security (SDG2). [2]

National food security strategies, however, are often created parallel to, rather than in concert with, urban development strategies.[3] Therefore, a better understanding of the requirements is needed for building stable and climate proof food systems, strengthen the linkages between rural producers and urban consumers and improve economic perspectives.

Strategies to combat food insecurity, climate risks and conflict risks by developing stable and resilient food systems with strong rural-urban connections will involve designing integrated policies and planning interventions. Challenges lie in creating multi-stakeholder governance processes enabling multi-level, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary decision making on food system strategies and planning in the broader context of urban and rural development.

Concentrating on the African drylands, in this workshop, we will discuss the relation between food security, socio economic developments and climate change and explore future scenarios. Where is social insecurity most likely due to food insecurities? How may the increasing and changing food demand from growing cities provide opportunities for the agricultural sector?  A resilient, well-equipped agricultural sector may decrease impacts from climate change and world market dynamics on local food security. Focusing on challenges and solutions, we will give the floor to scientists and practitioners from development and policy domains and invite the audience to share its perspectives and views.

Workshop Objectives

Objective #1: Providing a space for policy makers, researchers and experts to discuss strategies and policies which build stable and resilient food systems and strengthen the urban-rural linkages and reduce food security and conflict risks, particularly in dryland regions, facing recurrent climate related disasters and where agriculture is a critical source of livelihoods, food and nutrition security, as well as a key driver of the economy.

Desired Outcomes

This session  will explore promising building blocks  and essential requirements for developing policies and strategies that can help us to build food systems in dryland systems in Africa that are efficient, inclusive, climate-smart, and sustainable. Resilient and climate proof food systems will contribute  to breaking the socio economic cycle of poverty, hunger and social insecurity and conflict.

Format of the session

This interactive session with a professional moderator is designed to enable discussion among speakers as well as among speakers and attendees. The aim is that this interactive format will produce shared knowledge and ideas about challenges and potential solutions and valuable output for the organizers and participants in their real-life projects.

Duration of facilitated discussions: 90mins and will take the form of a roundtable/ stakeholder discussion.  Presenters will introduce themselves briefly and then as a group answer a set agreed upon questions of questions from the facilitator.

7 minutes: Willem Ligtvoet, Programme manager at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency -  introduction to the session, global outlook. The challenge: improve food production, managing climate change impacts, reducing food security risks and conflicts. The opportunity: strengthen urban-rural linkages to improve livelihoods and reduce malnutrition. 

7 minutes Gatkuoth Kai, Technical Coordinator, Disaster Risk Reduction, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union (confirmed) – AU polices on food security and DRR. Specifically ,what is needed to see polices like the Sendai and Paris Agreement turned into action.

10 minutes: Cecilia Tacoli, Teamleader Human Settlements Group, International Institute for Environment and Development - Urban rural interaction and the potential role of small urban centres  in food security, development and migration.

7 minutes: Experience from the field: Harma Rademaker, Cordaid - Developing  climate smart agriculture and using DRR as a source of conflict prevention.  

50 minutes: Interactive session: guiding questions from the facilitator + questions from and lively interaction with audience + planned intervention of  Gernot Laganda (tbc), Chief / Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at World Food Programme.

The session will deliberate:

  • How can policy coordination between rural and urban areas help create efficient and inclusive value chains and governance of natural resources needed for agricultural production and conflict reduction?
  • How can small- and medium-sized towns best be leveraged to link rural and urban areas?
  • How can public and private  investments best be targeted to develop rural farm and nonfarm sectors and thus reduce rural and urban poverty, increase productivity, and improve resilience?
  • What practical approaches, can improve food safety and support the benefits provided by the sector?

5 minutes: wrap-up, recommendations, conclusions, and practical steps.



Picture credit: Flickr/AusAID