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A long-term effort to build resilience in Sahel

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Wednesday, 06 February 2013

A long-term effort to build resilience in Sahel

The EU declares itself strongly engaged in a building – resilience strategy to last at least 20 years for Sahel, in an attempt to avoid a destabilisation in the region. The recently launched Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR) is shaping up to be a major long-term EU-led strategy for Africa's fragile Sahel region- the zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian savannah in the south.
Philippe Thomas, head of the food crises and food economy section at DG Devco (Development and Cooperation), said that the whole concept of the new AGIR alliance was built around the EU’s new approach of building resilience, based on lessons learned from previous food crises. “In the Sahel, over the nine last agricultural campaigns, we have had six years of food crisis. But those have been of different nature,” he said. Among them was the 2008 price crisis, which prompted the EU to put in place the food facility and to unblock €1 billion. “This is going to continue. At first we thought this was a temporary shock, mostly due to market speculation. Actually it’s more complicated. Among the causes is the fact that we [the EU] have changed policies,” he said, by referring to the Union's abandoned policy of excess production under the Common Agricultural Policy. Without this excess production and low prices, any small climate shock in the USA or Russia or the slightest rumour on production shortages would prompt prices to explode, affecting the poorest countries, he said.
Investment in sustainable agriculture is a major pillar for AGIR. The meaning of the AGIR is that the EU has sought to pull is political weight to bring on the table the other partners – the USA, the World Bank, UNICEF, WFP, the EU member states and African governments, to build something coherent for the region.
Similar alliances existed in other areas, such as in the Horn of Africa, where there the US was in the lead, the Commission official said, calling this a "division of tasks, not competition".

Source: Euractiv