West Africa leaders gather for a discussion on how to combat against Covid-19, violence, and hunger: Senegal

The Economic Commission of the United Nations for Africa (UNECA), in collaboration with the Economic Union for the West African States (ECOWAS), the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations, and Senegal’s  Economy, Plan and Cooperation Ministry, officially unveiled the annual forum of inter-governmental organizations from West Africa, in analyzing and resolving the impact of issues and challenges that have emerged due to COVID-19 pandemic and the unraveling of crisis in Ukraine.

In the course of the two-day forum that will take place in Dakar on the 21st and 22nd of June 2022, attendees will tackle problems pertaining to sustainable development, as well as discuss the key the policy guidelines and actions that are required to strengthen the resiliency and restoration of economies in West Africa. They will also establish the framework for policy responses to looming development concerns in West Africa, such as increased levels of food insecurity, the challenge posed by climate change, extreme violence, and the loss of social unity.

According to the findings of joint studies carried out by ECOWAS, UNECA, FAO, and WFP, the socio-economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive impact of the war in Ukraine have led to a rise in the cost of food, energy, and agricultural implements in the region, especially fertilizer.

According to the findings of this research, the countries of West Africa are extremely reliant on food imports; in 2019, the area will spend 4.5 billion USD on the importation of cereal. A little more than half of the wheat that is consumed in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Benin is imported from Russia. As a result, these countries are extremely dependent on wheat imports. Due to the extraordinary increase in food prices that occurred between February and March 2022, this condition poses a serious threat to the region. The FAO Food Price Index reached its highest level ever recorded in March 2022, which was also the month that the exceptional spike in food prices occurred.

The rising cost of buying farm inputs for West African nations, including fertilizer, has a severe influence on food supply throughout the region, notably in the Sahelian zone. This is especially true for the Sahel zone.

These unpredictabilities could make food insecurity worse in a region that is already dealing with the highest number of individuals who are vulnerable to food insecurity during the post-harvest phase since the Cadre Harmonis√© food security analyses were adopted in 2014. 43 million women, men, and children are likely to confront food insecurity during the current lean season, which runs from June to August. This is an increase from last year’s figure of 23 percent.

The United Nations will strengthen their cooperation with ECOWAS and inter-governmental institutions through the use of this forum. This will ensure that the participants work with each other in a cohesive way that is aligned with both the priority areas of the subregional establishment as well as the Goals for Sustainable Development.