Food Security in the Arab World Conference - Beirut, Lebanon | Summary Review, February 2012
Food Secure Arab World conference A Roadmap for Policy & Research Organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Beirut, Lebanon 6-7 February 2012
Why now?• The 2008 food crisis put food security very high on the agenda of Arab governments• Food insecurity contributed to the Arab Awakening• Ongoing conflicts exacerbate the risk of food insecurity• Food insecurity and poverty are likely higher than suggested by official data• There is a new window of opportunity for change
What was already known• Food insecurity and malnutrition levels are high• High unemployment, especially among the youth• The region has the highest food import dependency in the world and is closely linked with the global market• Low labor productivity and large role of informal sector• Large inequalities between rural and urban areas• Severe land and water constraints with remaining yield gaps• Food self-sufficiency is NOT a sustainable solution• Poor food security governance, weak institutions, and limited capacity• Lack of timely and reliable data on poverty, hunger, malnutrition, government spending, etc.
What are emerging issues?• Food-water-energy nexus with focus on renewable energy• Importance to focus on macro- and micro-level food security• Pockets of severe food insecurity within countries• Mismatch between youth skills/expectations and job opportunities• Off-farm employment in rural areas and among the poor has overtaken incomes from agriculture
What are emerging issues?• There is an increased risk of conflict, especially during transition• Rise of the triple burden of malnutrition (malnutrition, obesity, micronutrient deficiency)• Impacts of climate change hurt farm and non-farm households• Potential for aquaculture-based fish production, especially in Egypt
Key messages1. Manage the transition2. Foster job-creating growth3. Improve trade and market integration4. Develop innovative solutions for agriculture and water constraints5. Leverage health, nutrition, and education for food security6. Implement strategies and policies effectively7. Support a regional approach8. Support country-led development process9. Engage in smart strategic partnerships
1. Manage the transition• Build trust between citizens and the state and among citizens• Increase involvement at the community level to open channels of participation• Strengthen civil society• Improve data transparency and information
2. Foster job-creating growth• Design specific labor market policies for the youth• Reduce entry barriers for small entrepreneurs• Invest in science and technology• Focus on supporting job creating growth for the poor, especially in countries with household-level food insecurity• For countries with macro-level food insecurity, encourage exports to finance food imports and support agriculture in countries with agricultural potential
3. Improve trade and market integration• Open trade and unleash power of small businesses• Draw on experiences from Latin America and Eastern Europe• Consider a collaborative regional approach (establishment of regional storage facilities, etc.)• Consider larger public stocks (reserves) but acknowledge potential challenges (quality decrease, etc.)• Improve efficiency of supply chains
4. Develop innovative solutions for agriculture and water constraints• Enhance agricultural productivity, where economically viable• Cooperate on water and land management to reduce risk of conflict• Foster integrated rural development programs, including access to rural finance• Scale-up aquaculture in countries with potential such as Egypt
5. Leverage health, nutrition and education for food security• Strengthen social security and protection and develop human capacity to foster innovation• Provide better health care for mothers, target nutrition programs, and mainstream nutrition issues into other sectors beyond health (such as education, water, and sanitation)• Transition from food subsidies to transfers for the most food insecure populations• Set-up early warning systems and related knowledge systems
6. Implement strategies and policies effectively• Create an enabling environment within governments to link agriculture, trade, health, education, and nutrition• Strengthen capacities within local institutions, communities, and other stakeholders• Foster a bottom-up and participatory approach
7. Pursue a regional approach Regional High Cereal Reserves andImports + Volatile Prices Regional Procurement Systems Stakeholders Water Scarcity 1. LAS Water Basin Agreements 2. UN regional offices, think Consolidated High poverty, Agriculturalespecially in rural tanks, IFIs, CSOs and Rural areas Development R&D Fund A reinvigorated regional approach for data sharing, policy dialogue, lessons exchanges, and capacity building
8. Support country-led development process Ministries Local think tanks,• Timely, policy relevant NARS research results • Capacity building• Improved access to • Collaboration information and data Country • Sharing lessons across• Policy dialogue countries Strategy Support Program Universities Civil society • Collaboration • Farmers • Sharing lessons • Local Businesses across countries • NGOs
9. Engage in smart strategic partnerships• Smart strategic partnerships are needed from conceptualization to impact• Strengthen cooperation between international and regional organizations (Arab League, UN ESCWA, etc.)• Foster inclusive partnerships (government, CSO, NGO, etc.)• National partnerships are especially crucial for the most food insecure countries (Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, etc.)• Work toward an Arab Food Security Partnership Network
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