As Africa grapples with acute food shortages and starvation, leading thinkers in agriculture, climate change and the environment are to gather in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, this April to review innovative ways to tackle the continent’s unending cycle of drought and food insecurity.
The “Beating Famine conference” comes closely with yet another food crisis that has swept across Africa’s Sahel region – Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
Zimbabwe in southern Africa is currently threatened with famine while last year’s famine in the Horn of Africa left millions in need of emergency food aid.
“The world watched as millions suffered from famine in the Horn of Africa last year and now that suffering is spreading to parts of West Africa,” said Rob Francis, conference organiser. “These crises are calling for a long-term sustainable approach to food insecurity and famine, and we believe the answer lies with a greater emphasis on the environment and better agricultural practices.”
The conference to take from April 10-13 at the World Agroforesty Centre in Nairobi is a joint initiative by World Vision and the World Agroforestry Centre.
It will bring together policy-makers from across Africa, leading agriculture, food security, environment experts, international NGOs, donors, academia, practitioners and the media.
The conference will focus on practical, low cost and proven techniques to reverse land degradation and deforestation, lift incomes, adapt and mitigate climate change and ultimately prevent famine.
“The national planning segment of the conference will be particularly significant,” said Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands ambassador and senior fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre. “Governments and NGOs throughout the East African region are now partnering to implement national scaling-up programmes to create an evergreen agriculture based on smallholder adoption of trees for enhanced soil fertility and fodder, fruit and fuel wood production.”
Dry spells and poor yields in most parts of Africa have led to a decline in food production. The effective of climate change and global warming have compounded the food crisis in many parts of Africa.
UN food agencies, FAO and WFP estimate that over three million people across Africa might suffer from acute famine if no long-term measures are found.
“In essence, we hope to spark a regreening movement that transforms thinking across the world,” said World Vision East Africa climate change and environment specialist Assefa Tofu. “Governments, development organisations and also the community must learn to see the power of simple, effective environmental techniques as a new way of tackling hunger.”
The conference will consist of presentations by high level delegates, as well field trips and demonstrations. Participants will also be encouraged to develop action plans for their country or region.
A demonstration of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) will be conducted by FMNR pioneer Tony Rinaudo on Friday April 13 in Kijabe, Kenya.
FMNR has helped make great advances for the food security and economic sustainability of farmers in eight countries across Africa and three in Asia.
WrenMedia of the United Kingdom which trains science and agriculture focused journalism among African media practitioners is expected to coordinate media related activities at the Nairobi food conference.