Gender balance

NEW YORK, 22nd June, 2024 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates has signed a key agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and prevent the imminent risk of famine. The agreement was signed on behalf of the UAE by Sultan Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister for International Development Affairs, and on behalf of FAO by, Guangzhou Qu, Director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York, at a special ceremony in New York at the UAE Mission to the UN in New York, and in the presence of Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

FAO has received US$5 million in funding from the UAE, which will be directed towards the project titled ‘Mitigating Famine in Sudan – Support to Conflict-
Affected Vulnerable Smallholder Farming and Pastoralist Households’. The FAO project, set to run for one year, aims to provide emergency crop, livestock, and veterinary assistance to 275,000 vulnerable smallholder farmer and pastoralist households, benefiting approximately 1,375,000 individuals.

It will offer 155,000 vulnerable smallholder farmer households, approximately 775,000 individuals, with emergency livelihood support. Additionally, the project aims to reduce livestock losses through prophylactic vaccination against transboundary animal diseases and deworming, targeting 2 million heads of animals, benefiting approximately 600,000 individuals, with at least 25 percent being women-headed households.

Nusseibeh said, “We must do everything in our power to halt a famine in Sudan. That is what this contribution aims to achieve. Providing emergency agricultural support, which will benefit around 1,375,000 people, can mitigate this risk and enhances the resilience of vulnerable farming and pastoralist communities. Women and girls face a disproportionate impact of the grave threat that conflict poses, which is why the UAE is ensuring that this contribution also includes a specific focus on female-headed households. This initiative not only addresses the immediate needs in Sudan, but contributes to sustainable development and long-term stability.”
AbdulHakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, stated, “We are grateful for the generous contribution from the UAE, which will significantly enhance our efforts to improve food and nutrition security in Sudan. This support is crucial to the FAO Humanitarian Response Plan 2024 objectives of reaching out to 1.8 million households, ensuring direct livelihoods for 9 million people in Sudan, and contributing to food production for the wider population. We are committed to making a tangible difference in the lives of the people we serve, and this contribution brings us one step closer to our goal in Sudan.”
This contribution is part of UAE’s $70 million commitment announced in April at the ‘International Humanitarian Conference for Sudan and Neighbouring Countries’ to UN agencies and humanitarian organisations to alleviate the severe humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

N’Djamena—Young Diplomats held a half-day seminar in Chad, entitled “Food Security and Peace Building in the Sahel Region.” The purpose of the seminar was to assess the chronic food insecurity in the region, the current and future food security situation in the Sahel and to identify factors that would likely influence food security in the future.

“We should fix this right now or never again”

In particular, the panel focused on five case studies: Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The seminar also explored linkages between food security and traditional national security and national sovereignty. The seminar brought together high-level representatives of the Chadian government, civil society organizations and experts in agriculture and food. The situation in the Sahel region remains fragile, despite efforts at national, regional and international levels. The challenges are complex and multidimensional, that require a regional and cross-border cooperation for sustainable stability in the Sahel.

The panel focused on five case studies: Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Idris Zackaria, Young Diplomats’ Africa Regional Director, argues that the Sahel region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Global warming has produced widespread famine, resulting in extensive and displacement of people. The region is extremely poor in normal times and the drought is simply a crisis superimposed on chronic misery. It is requiring an urgent scale-up of emergency response. So many of people in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania are struggling to meet their daily food needs and face extreme vulnerability and increasing hardships, particularly in Chad and Niger.

Nicole NADJALTA, Agricultural Economist, argues that the Sahel is the region of the world that has experienced the largest increase in hunger, with the number of undernourished increasing by 13.1 million in 11 years. The change of context at the regional level with the rise of insecurity and the proliferation of armed groups has complicated the situation. The Sahel is now mainly approached from a security or migratory angle. While people are more than ever confronted with the problem of hunger. The security and development approach, which is intended to be a response th Sahelian challenges, poses many risks and underestimates the importance of governance in building the resilience capacities of the people. This imperative is more urgent in a context of increased militarization of the Sahel in the face of growing security challenges.

Nicole concluded in her research paper that “The Sahel is the region of the world that has experienced the greatest increase in hunger over the last decade, a vivid illustration of the difficulties of Sahelian states, regional organizations, technical and financial partners responding in a structural and sustainable way to the world, food and nutrition insecurity. Yet hunger is not inevitable in the Sahel. Beyond the rhetoric, the various actors must invest massively in building the capacities of resilience of the populations to guarantee their food and nutritional security on a long-term answer, putting in place a holistic vision of fighting against food insecurity which encompasses a response to structural and cyclical factors simultaneously.”

According to Zackaria; the critical situation in the Sahel requires a swift and targeted response, youth organizations and humanitarian actors in the region should immediately involve with the international community in order to create better opportunities for food security in the region. “We should fix this right now or never again” Zackaria stressed.

Across all drought-affected countries in the Sahel, more than 3.8 million people need urgent WASH assistance. Hundreds of thousands of families are forced to adopt negative coping mechanisms. They are cutting down on meals, withdrawing children from schools, remaining without health treatment. In some areas, over 50 per cent of affected people have already resorted to emergency measures such as selling reproductive cattle, begging or migrating – according to some reports.

MAHAMAT-AHMAT Abakar, agricultural economist, argued that the exploitation of these opportunities requires the establishment of appropriate economic and institutional conditions and the mobilization of resources necessary for its development. This comes into effect:

  • Design and implement macroeconomic policies (budget, tax, interest rate, exemption, etc.) that encourage economic agents to rational and sustainable use of resources and that promote productivity and thereby competitiveness of agricultural products;
  • Adapt policy instruments to agricultural diversity and regional specificities of production structures;
  • Strengthen production support services, restructure and / or privatize state-owned enterprises and support the professional and interprofessional organization;
  • Facilitate the adoption of new technologies by farms and encourage private investment in agricultural and rural activities through a coherent incentive system based on the obligation of results, and a reform of land structures adapted to the diversity of farms.

Young Diplomats aims to continue this monthly meeting for one-year duration. By bring experts in the related area as well as budding researchers to share the space so that they will be able to share the ideas, information and build network for future research and other endeavors in order to create the political license to tackle the food and nutrition challenges in the Sahel region.

Climate change isn’t something people get to choose to believe or not: it’s happening. Since pre-industrial times, human-caused climate change has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions that has led to an average temperature rise of over 1 degree Celsius on Earth. The next four decades have each been successively warmer than the decade before it since 1850. We are observing a warming atmosphere and changing climatic conditions worldwide as a result of climate change, which has serious consequences for our physical environment.

In 2021, the intergovernmental panel on climate change report sounded a red alert for humanity. It stressed how human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years. This left no room for doubt. The record concentration levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are unequivocally due to human activities rooted in the burning of fossil fuels. The goal of 2015 Paris agreement aims to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius. But at the current trajectory, the world is on, we are at risk of falling significantly short of these targets. According to the World Meteorological Organization, in 2020, the global mean surface temperature was 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times. 2020 was also one of the three warmest years on record.

The impact humans have had on the climate has, and continues to, alter nature. We are inching closer and closer to ecological tipping points, many of which are irreversible. Changes in extreme weather are affecting every region of the world, making heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts more frequent and severe. This rise in global temperature aggravates the rate at which sea levels are rising, corals are bleaching, the ocean acidifying, biodiversity is being lost and heat waves, tropical cyclones, and fire-related events are taking place. Delicate ecosystems like small low-lying island states, semi-arid and arid areas, and arctic and tundra environments face a greater threat of climate change. However, the environment does not exist in a vacuum and neither does human society.

Everything is interconnected. Every single way in which climate change impacts our environment has a ripple effect that will manifest in the short, medium, or long term. As a threat multiplier, climate change puts us at risk of reversing the gains in growth and sustainable development made in the last few decades. This indicates that the effects of climate change are manifest throughout our social, economic, cultural, and political fabric in addition to affecting our weather patterns and physical surroundings. The way people feel the impacts of climate change and respond to it is determined by multidimensional and intersecting inequalities. If you think that the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money. (Guy McPherson)

The climate crisis disproportionately affects women and girls as they tend to rely more heavily on natural resources, public services, and infrastructure. They are restricted to and very seldom controlled. They are also less represented in decision-making in general, so climate responses are no different. These processes are influenced by the very same socio-economic and cultural norms that discriminate against women and girls in other areas. When it comes to specific climate change impacts, women and girls are particularly affected in at least five areas: food security, water availability, health, gender-based violence, and climate-induced displacement and migration. Women play a critical role in global food security. Many smallholder farmers are women whose livelihoods and food sources are at risk from climate change. In addition, male-dominated structures often govern land ownership, making it hard for women to access the fertile plots that they require to produce food for their survival and that of their families.

Also, climate change is intensifying water scarcity, which adds to women’s time burden as it is often their responsibility to collect fresh water. In addition, high temperatures and salinization of sources of drinking water have a detrimental impact on maternal and child health. Linked to this, the increased incidence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, cholera, and typhoid increases the risk of pregnant women contracting these diseases. This, combined with unequal care burdens, can disproportionately pressure women and girls to support their families. These demands on women are further intensified during disasters when the risk of sexual and gender-based violence is greatest. Child and forced marriages, as well as increased human trafficking, can occur as a harmful coping mechanism among those who suffer the most from climate change-related economic stress. These challenging economic conditions forced families out of their communities and most of the time, those displaced are women. As we can see, it is those who are least responsible that often bear the brunt of the most adverse effects of climate change. This can further deepen existing inequalities and affect the ability of women and society at large to manage and recover from the impacts of climate change. As former US President Barack Obama once said that “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it”.