A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Tomorrow, G8 leaders plan to launch a ‘New Alliance to Increase Food and Nutrition Security’ at Camp David in the United States. I’m here from Oxfam’s office in Senegal, where I lead our GROW advocacy efforts in African countries, to bring the perspectives of our partners to G8 leaders. While I applaud G8 leaders for their good intentions, I believe that this initiative, as proposed, is not going to deliver the lasting solutions we need to fight hunger and malnutrition.
There is talk of this New Alliance emphasizing the private sector as the missing link to “achieve transformational development". Meanwhile, some G8 countries have yet to fulfill their previous aid commitments made at L’Aquila, Italy, which ensures sustainable growth through country-led plans. Can passing the responsibility on to private companies really fill the gap and contribute to long-term development? Donors have been taking steps to enable private sector investment in agriculture for decades, yet there are still nearly a billion hungry people in the world. If the private sector is to play a productive role, there needs to be strong evidence that these kinds of partnerships can actually deliver for small-scale producers.
In reality, adding a new 'Alliance' will only be relevant if the G8 and the African governments meaningfully fulfill their commitments to two existing promises. The first is the Maputo Declaration, which contained a “commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years”. The second is the G8’s agreement at L’Aquila in 2009 that the foundation of agriculture can only stand if programs and policies are aligned to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program better known as the CAADP framework.
Many African voices from Dar es Salaam to Addis Ababa and from Lagos to Johannesburg have jointly echoed their voices in an open letter to G8 leaders requesting that they stick to Africa’s plans by aligning national agricultural plans to the CAADP framework. These voices are urging leaders to move away from rhetoric and propose long-term solutions to the chronic issue of hunger. I share the letter’s concern that the G8’s proposed New Alliance is neither new nor an alliance. The central message of the letter focuses on renewing our commitment to the implementation of CAADP, which promotes investment in agriculture, the life and livelihood of three quarters of rural Africans.
Three years ago, at the L’Aquila Summit in Italy, President Obama rallied the leaders of the world’s richest countries to make a promise to provide $22 billion to countries that present a good plan. Seven months away from the end of L’Aquila the basket is half full or half empty. While building your house, you need to have solid foundation to hold the structure together, public funding from G8 countries coupled with down payment from African government together are the cement of the foundation.
Today, I stand with my fellow Africans in calling on the G8 to stick to Africa’s plans.
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