Today, the European Commission hosted an international conference on the Sahel region of West Africa, where 18 million people are in danger from hunger. High-level representatives from EU, OECD and West-African countries, African regional organizations and UN agencies came together to find lasting responses to the food and nutrition crises.
During this conference, EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announced that the EU will increase its humanitarian funding to the Sahel by €40 million. “This funding is about saving lives in an emergency. It is our last chance to get to people when the crisis peaks” said the Commissioner. In total, the EU has now spent €337 million in humanitarian aid to the Sahel.
However, the conference was not just about responding to the crisis, but about how to link up emergency relief with long-term development so that such crises can be prevented in future. EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was also at the meeting and used the opportunity to launch a brand new initiative called “AGIR Sahel” (Alliance Globale pour l’Initiative Resilience), aimed at helping people in the Sahel to better cope with future droughts.
This comes just months after both Commissioners together launched a similar initiative called “SHARE” (Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience), which aimed to break the vicious cycle of humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa region. ONE welcomes this approach to linking up emergency relief with development. ONE Brussels Director Eloise Todd said “Investing in agriculture is the best insurance policy we can have against future food crises. That’s why we need to increase effective agriculture investments in the next EU budget”.
Commissioner Piebalgs said today that “the EU will play its part by focusing its aid on agriculture and food security in the coming years.” In order to be able to implement this focus, it is important that the EU can count on sufficient resources. The EU and its Member States are currently deciding on the next EU budget for 2014-2020 in which €51 billion is earmarked for development assistance. It is important that we protect those funds despite threats of budget cuts, so that people can invest in time for a future free of hunger. You can sign our petition here to ask European leaders to do just that.