Mali president calls for solidarity amid security, climate crisis
Charmie Joy Pagulong (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2020 - 12:00am

ROME – President of the Republic of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta launched an urgent call to the international community to combine efforts and show solidarity in combatting hunger and poverty in Sahel. 

The security crisis in Sahel, a biogeographic zone in Africa between the Sahara and the Sudanian Savanna, has escalated recently “where 4.3 million women, men and children are at risk of increased food insecurity and starvation in Mali.”

Keita also warned that what is happening to his country could spread to other parts of the globe. 

 “We had 10 million tons record harvest of cereals but it is still not enough. It is a matter of reaching areas mired in conflict,” Keita told member states and journalists at the opening of the 43rd session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) held in Rome, Italy last Feb. 11. 

In Sahel, affected farmers are leaving their fields and livestock in fear and food markets are left empty due to the impact of “terrorism” in rural areas, he said. 

United Nations agencies have raised the alarm over hunger incidents across the globe – especially Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – “because of a rapidly escalating security crisis further aggravated by climate change.” These countries are facing increased number of security incidents, including attacks by armed groups and community conflicts over limited resources because of climate change. 

In the Philippines, the decade-long armed conflict in Mindanao has led to widespread displacement (including agriculture-dependent communities), infrastructure and shelter damage, and food insecurity.

As of November 2019, a total number of 6,696 families (33,089 persons) were displaced in Mindanao due to armed conflict (31,635 persons), clan feuds (500 persons) and natural disaster (954 persons), data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees showed.

Keita stressed the role of IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations and an international financial institution, in helping strengthen the rural communities that were prey to or at risk of violence. 

“Mali will never give up. Neither us nor the other countries of the Sahel,” he said. “We are bleeding but we shall prevail with support of agencies like IFAD. IFAD has enabled a people faced with the worst kind of attacks to uphold their values and keep their dignity.” 

He cited the development aid provided by IFAD as he has “seen strength in areas where agriculture has been reinforced by long-term investments.”

“I know how much you already contribute to our country and we commend you for your constant support and applaud the success to support our youth, women, breeders and farmers,” Keita said. 

“Mali is among those who believe that the importance of IFAD’s work deserves the allocation of resources commensurate with its lofty ambitions,” he said. 

IFAD called on its 177 member states to help the Fund reach its goal of doubling impact on the lives of the world’s most marginalized people by 2030.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEïTA
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