The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Union (EU) announced that they are partnering in an 18-month project to improve the production, availability and consumption of nutritious foods to prevent malnutrition among women and children in Africa’s Central Sahel region comprising Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The project, backed with a contribution of €20 million by the EU through the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, will see WFP provide immediate assistance to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition while supporting the entire value chain for nutritious foods.
The combined effects of conflict and climate change, compounded by the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, are disrupting food security and nutrition in the region. Close to 3 million children are at risk of becoming acutely malnourished across the three countries in the Central Sahel.
Sandra Kramer, European Commission Director for Africa for International Partnerships Directorate General said, “The EU engagement in the Central Sahel has been and will continue to be multidimensional. Along with our efforts to support governance and security, we are committed to providing essential services in remote areas. This action with WFP will enable the production of locally produced nutritious food. It will create sustainable jobs and provide the most vulnerable with the food assistance they need to overcome the crisis at stake in the region.”
The project will include activities to reduce post-harvest losses, sharpen processing and commercialisation involving smallholder farmers, women’s organizations, as well as the private and public sectors. These actions are complemented using cash-transfers that enable vulnerable women and children to access these nutritious foods in the market.
Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for Western Africa said, “We want to tackle malnutrition from the root and also ensure nutritious foods are available in a timely manner to respond to present and future shocks in the Central Sahel. WFP and the EU also intend to contribute to economic development through job creation by focusing on local production.”
WFP and the EU recognize that long-term investments in food systems and local value chains interventions are key to ending hunger and malnutrition.