Following rising conflicts, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Wednesday, called for increased investments in rural development. The call was made by the President, IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo, at the final day of the Fund’s 43rd Governing Council meeting in Rome, Italy, Wednesday, while expressing concern over escalating global instability, hunger, conflict and climate change. According to IFAD climate change could push over 100 million people into poverty by 2030, with half of this poverty increase due to climate effects on agriculture and also as exacerbating existing conflicts has the potential to cause new conflicts around the world as resources become more limited. In 2018, disasters displaced 17.2 million people from their homes, 90 per cent fled weather and climate-related hazards. “We all agree on the severity of the situation and that there is no time to lose.
We need to scale up our actions and leverage our resources in order to eliminate poverty and hunger. Also speaking was Associate Vice-President, IFAD, Donald Brown, said incidents of armed conflict in Africa alone increased by 36 per cent between 2018 and 2019 contributing to an increase in hunger and poverty. “While humanitarian responses are well suited to address the symptoms of conflicts or natural disasters, it is rural development that is devised to address long-term issues and is better suited to build resilience, and foster peace and stability,” Brown said. Meanwhile, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, AGRA, Agnes Matilda Kalibata, who was recently named Special Envoy of the Food Systems Summit 2021 noted the dramatic decline in poverty and hunger by Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, and this is evident that well-targeted rural development interventions can accelerate recovery from the devastating effects of conflicts and yield solid peace dividends. “IFAD was the first multilateral institution that came to Rwanda after the genocide, when nobody else wanted to be there. “IFAD was among the first to invest in capacity for the government so that it could strengthen its agricultural sector. Rwanda has achieved extraordinary results since its 1994 genocide.
Thanks to strong economic growth, poverty, and hunger have dramatically declined”, she said. According to the Director-General, International Development Policy, German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dominik Ziller, the development also can play a role in preventing conflict. “If people don’t have opportunities in their countries there is a risk that criminality rises, terrorism increases and the warlords will find more supporters. There is a risk of destabilization and more fragile states”, Ziller said. Also speaking on the issue was Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Said Hussein Iid, explained that the Somali government is focusing on income-generating opportunities for young people “To prevent youth going into terrorism, piracy or going overseas”, Iid said.
The Ambassador and Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko, representing the African Union Commission, emphasized the need for leaders in Africa to ensure they work with other fellow countrymen to find a lasting solution to conflicts affecting the citizenry and said that, “There can be no development without lasting peace. Also in her assertion, Secretary-General, Asian Farmers’ Association, Esther Penunia, raised concerns that “Conflict stops agricultural production and stops millions of people lifting themselves out of poverty. “This is compounded by natural disasters, like the current scourge of locusts destroying crops in East Africa and a changing climate that threatens African food systems and is the driving force behind migration and conflict.” “We know that our planet, this global house of ours, is on fire and the climate crisis is mostly affecting us. It’s our lands that get flooded; our houses and properties swept away; our rivers go dry.” Penunia also charged world leaders and non-state actors to wake up to the fact that small-scale farmers are part of the solution. It could be recalled that in 2013 when the deadly typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, a group of farmers organized themselves to implement a diversified organic farming system, and provided food to the survivors as early as two weeks after the typhoon.
Climate emergencies also disproportionally affect disabled people because of their inherent vulnerabilities, and people with disabilities are among the most marginalized and at-risk populations in any crisis-affected community. An estimated 9.7 million people with disabilities are forcibly displaced as a result of conflict and persecution. Yetnebersh Nigussie, an Ethiopian disability rights activist, said this needs a specific focus, with development projects using improved data collection on the location and needs of people with disabilities. “We need to make sure that ‘leave no one behind’ goes beyond being a slogan”, Nigussie said.