Faced with the global economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, the United Nations Fund launches a concrete initiative to protect the most vulnerable livelihoods and markets. At least 22 countries are most affected, starting with Somalia. Federica Cerulli, an Ifad expert, explains this by denouncing a paradox: the poorer and more indebted, the more difficult it is to intervene.
In a scenario where the war in Ukraine is driving food, fuel and fertilizer prices to record levels putting food security at risk in many of the world’s poorest countries, the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD ) recently launched the Crisis Response Initiative to ensure that small farmers in high-risk countries can produce food in the coming months to feed their families and communities, while reducing threats to future crops. We talked about it with Federica Cerulli , IFAD expert for the mobilization of financial resources.
The upheaval in global markets is shaking food systems to the core, warns Cerulli, arguing that it is particularly alarming for countries already affected by the impact of climate change and COVID-19, where more people are grappling with poverty. and hunger. The new IFAD initiative – he explains – will help protect livelihoods and markets so that the most vulnerable can continue to feed their families and communities.
A concrete and immediate action
The role of IFAD is critical in mitigating any shocks to food systems and, in so doing, protecting long-term development progress. Cerulli recalls this by affirming that the international community must be ready to face the profound and destabilizing consequences of this conflict in Europe. The IFAD initiative is concrete: the UN Fund asks member states to contribute to the huge resources needed to cover all 22 countries listed in the Initiative as priorities based on need. And – Cerulli highlights – in particular for the first three, including Somalia, he asks for an immediate commitment.
The most affected areas
The repercussions of the war – recalls the expert – are felt most strongly in some parts of Africa, the Near East and Central Asia, but other countries and regions are also being hit every day. Many countries are vulnerable to price shocks due to their heavy dependence on food and energy imports from Russia and Ukraine. Other countries especially in Central Asia – he explains – are experiencing a deterioration in trade along with a significant reduction in the inflow of remittances. The complete list includes: Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mozambique, Haiti, Ethiopia, Burundi, Eritrea, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Malawi, Chad, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Comoros, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Benin.
Essential resources for agriculture
Vulnerable rural populations are hit hard by rising prices of essential agricultural inputs, especially now as a new planting season begins. Small-scale farmers – Cerulli’s prime example – are struggling to pay for fuel for machinery, fertilizer and transportation costs to get to markets, and most lack the ability to absorb price increases.
Cerulli explains that, building on IFAD’s recent experience in responding to COVID-19, the Initiative is aimed at guaranteeing smallholder farmers access to the main agricultural inputs, fuel, fertilizers, financing for immediate needs and access to markets and information relating to the market. The initiative will also help reduce post-harvest losses by investing in small-scale infrastructure.
The Somalia case
In Somalia, one of the priority countries for the Crisis Response Initiative, the costs of electricity and transport have skyrocketed – reports Cerulli – since the conflict in Ukraine began. Small-scale farmers who rely on irrigation powered by small diesel engines have been affected. This shock exacerbates the worrying prospects of famine in a country already in the midst of severe drought. Most local farmers are unable to buy fuel and have suffered losses as a result. The spiral effect on the cost of transport, food and all other essential goods is felt. The point is that the spiraling food and energy prices could eventually lead to social unrest and destabilize countries, especially fragile states.
The debt paradox
With the COVID-19 crisis, debt has naturally increased markedly in every region of the world, for African economies it has meant increasing fears about debt sustainability or in some cases it has marked the yield in this sense. . Then there is the case of Somalia which appears to have failed in its objective of falling within the parameters. And unfortunately – this is the factor that Cerulli wants to denounce – in the current crisis all this leads to an impasse: aid funds cannot be secured to these countries that are not in compliance with their debt. The IFAD, which turns out to be one of the financial creditors and therefore cannot disburse other funds or include Mogadishu in some programs. All that is possible – explains Cerulli – is to work with partners who ensure aid in the area.
Italy calls for a global alliance for food security
Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of the meeting of G7 ministers in Germany, the Italian Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, said that Italy expresses great concern about what is happening in the Mediterranean with respect to the wheat crisis, for example ”. And he made it known that as Italy and as the foreign ministry, a dialogue at ministerial level is being organized with all the Mediterranean countries together with the FAO, which will see “the first initiative in Italy next month.” He added: “We will work together. with the Mediterranean countries to allow them to diversify the sources of supply of basic necessities in such a way as to avoid a food crisis, which can lead to famines and increasingly massive migratory flows “.
This post will expire on Friday June 24th, 2022 10:04pm