Food security highlighted as target of new China-Africa-UN partnership initiative
15 May 2023
BEIJING, 15 May – Opportunities to build long-term drought resilience in East Africa were at the centre of a half-day Dialogue entitled Toward a more food secure Horn of Africa (HoA), hosted by the UN in China with support of the Food and Agriculture Organization in China on 5 May. Representatives of the HoA countries and the Government of China joined the event, along with members of the UN Country Teams in the region and a number of relevant research institutes, foundations, and financial institutions.
The Dialogue built on strategic discussions held recently under the China-HoA-UN Transformative Partnership Initiative (TPI). The Initiative, developed through the collaboration of the UN in China, UN Country Teams in HoA countries, and the UN Development Coordination Offices based in Africa and Asia and the Pacific, sets out to revitalize opportunities for bold partnerships amongst governments, development partners, foundation and businesses, in support of the national development priorities of HoA countries, and with a view to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implement the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Discussions focused on the current drought and food security emergency in the HoA region and the resulting impacts on lives and livelihoods. Technology exchanges and investment opportunities were proposed to address these challenges and build drought mitigation and resistance in the region. Here, the TPI hopes to draw upon China’s experience, expertise and resources, to bring them to bear for the benefit of HoA countries in the form of concrete, locally driven projects.
In remarks at the Dialogue, Director-General Wu Peng of the Department of African Affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Communities in the Horn of Africa have been facing severe challenges, so today, it is highly necessary for us to focus on long-term drought resilience and contribute to food security. As good friends and partners of the Horn of Africa, China highly values agricultural cooperation to address the difficulties in the near-term and long-term needs.”
Director-General Tang Ying of the Global Development Promotion Center of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) also delivered remarks at the Dialogue.
Due to the current two-year drought, 20.9 million people have been classified as highly food insecure in the HoA region, while 7.46 million children under the age of five are estimated to face acute malnutrition, and 23.75 million people face daily household water insecurity, increasing vulnerability to water-borne diseases. Today, country-level appeals remain a primary mechanism for the humanitarian response.
In remarks at the Dialogue, Ambassador Awale Ali Kullane of the Federal Republic of Somalia, said, “We have seen the devastation caused by drought and famine, and we understand that climate change is compounding these problems. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to work together to develop solutions that will enable us to build resilience and ensure food security for all. This is a difficult problem that requires a multifaceted solution that encompasses prevention, readiness, and response. We need to explore opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between China and the Horn of Africa.”
While responding to the urgent needs of the region now remains critical, also shifting from an emergency response to a more proactive, gender-sensitive and transformative approach for preparedness and long-term resilience was frequently emphasized at the Dialogue, along with the need to bring diverse stakeholders, including from the private sector, together to explore solutions for empowering communities and governments who seek to respond to a worsening climate crisis.
In his remarks, UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee said, “This event comes at a critical moment, as progress on the SDGs has stalled, and we must take critical, ambitious steps if we hope to put ourselves on track to achieve the SDGs. China’s increasingly important role in South-South cooperation presents enormous opportunities for technology transfers and assistance, and the creation of meaningful partnerships to address the development challenges in these countries.”
The UN in China looks to continue to use its convening power to catalyze demand-driven SDG partnerships, policy, investment pipelines, financing and technical advisory/support and knowledge transfer to accelerate collaboration between China and HoA countries to achieve food security and to ensure compliance with international norms and standards. These efforts are enabled by the work of UN agencies in China, including the Rome-based Agencies, namely, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, who offer their knowledge, financial and technical expertise on policy issues related to food security, agriculture, and nutrition.
Discussions also included concrete opportunities for project-based cooperation, including potential support for the creation of national drought management policies, field projects aimed at building capacity in drought management, and other initiatives geared toward facilitating a shift toward drought resilience. The importance of giving full consideration to gender equality and social inclusion was widely agreed upon.
The outcomes from this Dialogue will feed into ongoing efforts to support China-Africa cooperation, including the annual event of the China Africa Development Fund to be held in May of 2023, which will focus on accelerating progress on SDG 2 on food security and sustainable agriculture.
For further information, please contact:
Louise Xi LI, Head of Communications, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in China
Tel: +8610-85320725, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org