Global responsibility: Tackling hunger is the only way forward

Agriculture and food security must be more firmly rooted in the agenda of Germany’s EU Council Presidency. Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun an ambitious European political programme: Striving for compromise in budget negotiations, conducting negotiations for an orderly Brexit as well as an appropriate policy response to the corona crisis. Unfortunately, one of Mrs Merkel’s strategic positions that she previously held is nowhere to be found: The prosperity of Africa is in the interest of Europe. 

 

Somalia / Mogadishu, July 2011: this woman fled with her children from Baidoa, located 250 kilometres away, to the IDP Camp Al-Hidaaya. © Christoph Püschner/Zeitenspiegel
Somalia / Mogadishu, July 2011: this woman fled with her children from Baidoa, located 250 kilometres away, to the IDP Camp Al-Hidaaya. © Christoph Püschner/Zeitenspiegel

Lisa Hücking

Lisa Hücking (Deutsche Welthungerhilfe)

Lisa Hücking is an Expert for Agriculture and Nutrition Policy at Welthungerhilfe.

 

Welthungerhilfe (WHH)

Welthungerhilfe

 

The lockdown strategies that were largely implemented very early on and resolutely had and have particularly devastating economic and social consequences in the Global South that can undo two decades’ worth of social successes to tackle hunger and poverty.

Therefore, Germany’s Council Presidency must defend the goals it has set for itself, especially in a phase of setbacks: Tackling poverty is anchored in the Lisbon Treaty (Article 208) and the European Commission has set itself the sustainability goal of ‘zero hunger’ in its communication Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa.

 

In many African countries, basic foods are imported even though 50-70% of the labour force work in agriculture. The agricultural and food sector must be at the centre of every strategy to mitigate the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis in the short term and to develop productive employment in the long term. The goal here is not just to recover lost income for the poorer rural population but also to avert the growing food crisis. Furthermore, the uncertain future prospects in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa add to the political instability and not just in regions that are already characterised by fragile statehood. 

Particularly this larger political reason must be addressed when tackling hunger and poverty to create decent perspectives on our neighbour continent: 

  • Africa can feed itself but the self-sufficiency rate with food must be increased. To do so, a productive, diversified and therefore resilient agricultural and food sector is just as necessary as the boosting of supply chains within Africa. 
  • Farmers’ associations and organisations must be strengthened. It is their voices that must be heard in social dialogue for a more forward-looking agricultural policy. 
  • Sustainable practices contribute to being able to deal better with the effects of climate change. They must be further supported in development collaboration.  
  • Legal certainty, social security systems as well as mechanisms for political participation for civil-society actors are part of the necessary framework for supporting modern agriculture as well as secure land rights - both traditional and formal. 

 

Republic of Togo / Lome, Nov. 2015: advertisement of imported food on large billboards on the outskirts of a market. © Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt
Republic of Togo / Lome, Nov. 2015: advertisement of imported food on large billboards on the outskirts of a market. © Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt

Supporting agriculture is an active peace policy: A widely effective agricultural sector that offers its population an adequate and healthy diet, enables good employment and makes an effective contribution to tackling climate change must be the goal. The right to food is much more than simply satisfying the most basic human need - it is also a requirement for development, innovation, prosperity and peace. 

Germany’s Council Presidency should raise its political ambitions for food security and rural development. If Europe truly wants to take global responsibility, it must be resolute in its support for the right to food. The recommendations for the German Presidency of the EU Council is defined in the Policy Brief of Welthungerhilfe. 

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