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Food insecurity war can be won, says church advocacy body head

December 14, 2010

NAIROBI

It is possible to win the war against food insecurity in Africa, if appropriate measures are adopted, says Peter Prove, the executive director of Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, which campaigns for food justice.
 
At the same time, Prove, speaking at the All Africa Conference of Churches headquarters in Nairobi at a Nov. 22-26 conference, warned that the current impact of climate change is a big challenge, and must be tackled fully and urgently.

“We can win the war. Here [in our conference] we have heard evidence of small scale efforts which work. It is do-able and it is our responsibility to make it happen,” Prove told ENInews in Nairobi on Nov. 24 during the EAA-organized conference titled “Food for Life.”

Wilson Songa, Kenya’s agriculture secretary, said agriculture needs to be transformed from subsistence to commercial farming, where farmers undertake agriculture as business, if poverty and food insecurity is to be eradicated.

“The population of sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to grow from 900 million currently to between 1.5 to 2 million by 2050,” he said. “Concerted efforts and purposeful policy action is required in order to meet food demands for this growing population.”

Songa’s comments contrasted with those of some other speakers, including the Rev. Malcolm Damon, the executive director of Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa.

Damon said, “We need to move away from cash crops … over the emphasis on exporting commodities, and concentrate on growing food for the local market. We need to grow first for the local markets and once we have enough, we can then export the rest.”

Prove said in his comments to the meeting, “We have seen many examples on the power and effectiveness of local knowledge, indigenous capacities and what can arise from the empowerment of local communities and individuals in their own context.”

Several challenges to food security in Africa including, low investments by governments in agriculture, high global food prices, land-grabbing by foreign nations, and climate change, were highlighted during the meeting.
 
“This [climate change] is probably in the current context one of the most urgent and pressing issues,” said Prove. “It is ironic and a great injustice that the people that are least responsible for emissions that lead to global warming are likely to suffer the worst consequences.”

Georgine Kengne Djeutane, Africa representative for the World Student Christian Federation, told participants that access to adequate, safe and nutritious food, is one of the foundations of a just, peaceful and sustainable world in contrast to the global reality of nearly a billion people lacking access, the majority being from sub-Sahara Africa.

Kengne Djeutane challenged churches to work to expose the causes of hunger, as they carry on providing food aid to those in immediate and dire need, saying, “We cannot tolerate hunger. Access to adequate and nourishing food is a right, not a privilege that only those with resources can buy.” 

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