African leaders, meeting at the 3rd summit of the African Union 6-8 July, raised the alarm at the level of hunger on the continent and how to alleviate a situation in which many people have to survive on one meal or less per day.
At a special seminar before the summit on “Innovative approaches to meeting the hunger Millennium Development Goal in Africa”, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged member States to boost food production by pursuing a “green revolution” which would include better irrigation, improved food crops and better infrastructure.
The seminar was also addressed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, President Joachim A. Chissano of Mozambique, Professor Alpha O. Konare Chairperson of the AU Commission, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General and Director of the Millennium Project.
UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, said in a keynote address that the current hunger situation in Africa could not be discussed out of the context of the Word Trade Organisation agreement. She also said that in agro-economic sciences, farmers have no incentive to improve their production capacity without clear market access and government support.
She said Africa’s hunger crisis is strongly linked to the crisis of urbanisation and the growth of slums. In a continent where already 37 per cent of the population live in urban areas, over 170 million people reside in slums without having even one proper meal a day. Many of these slum dwellers revert to practising urban agriculture as a means of livelihood.
As a member of the Blair Commission for Africa, Mrs. Tibaijuka said that the Commission will also help persuade the international community to honour its commitment to Africa by doubling its assistance and enforcing overall debt relief for the continent.
During her visit to Addis Ababa, Mrs. Tibaijuka held talks with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Vice-President Moody Awori of Kenya, President Omar El-Bashir of Sudan, Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse of Ethiopia, President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Ambassador Miles Wistead of the Blair Commission, Mrs. Gertrude Mongela, Chairperson of the Pan African Parliament, Mrs. Bience Gawanas, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, and Mrs. Rosebud Kurwijila, the AU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy