Context: Food insecurity, climate change, and agroecology
More than 105 million people live in the Sahel region. A quarter of them suffer from food insecurity, and 20% of them live in situations of extreme poverty. Conflicts and chronic food crises have diminished communities’ resilience. The region is also particularly affected by climate change. Population growth (3% on average per year) is increasing pressure on natural resources. This, in turn, leads to desertification, soil infertility (also linked to the misuse of fertilizers) and increased land-use conflict (especially among farmers/breeders).
The 13 Caritas offices involved in this project consider agroecology as a set of farming practices, economic models, and societal initiatives that can address the four major issues of in the Sahel region:
- Food security (quantitative and qualitative)
- Access to adequate income for farmers
- Adaptation to climate change and the sustainable usage of natural resources
- Strengthening social cohesion to develop territories
The program is being developed in 6 countries in the Sahel belt: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mauritania, and Senegal, as well as in the north of Benin and Togo, which are located along the same agroclimatic longitude and suffer from similar circumstances: water and wind erosion, degradation of natural rangelands, lack of management of ruminant livestock, food insecurity, etc.
The pilot phase of the program, for which preparations began in October 2018, will continue until 31 December 2020 (2 years and 3 months).
The program will be implemented by the coordination team at the international and national level through joint, interdisciplinary activities. At the national level, it will be implemented by the nine Sahel partners through their eight country projects.
Objective: transition towards agroecology
The general objective of this program is to strengthen the intervention skills of partners and communities in order to allow for a transition towards agroecology within the context of climate change.
Training, exchanges, and experimentation by partners and farmers will improve the local civil society’s skills and will facilitate the acceleration of initiatives resulting from projects and research in consultation with public authorities. This will lead to improved recognition of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of agroecology. Local and regional exchange mechanisms and collaboration with NGOs in the Sahel region will also promote the exchange and development of sustainable and complimentary solutions to address the causes of food insecurity.
Target audience: Small-scale farmers and farming organizations
The direct beneficiaries of this program are the approximately 4,000 farmers and 50 farming organizations assisted within the scope of the proposed agroecological practices. Particular attention will be given to the active participation of young people (15% of small-scale farmers) and women (40%), who are key populations that contribute to food security. Other beneficiaries are the 77 members of the partner teams of the eight countries carrying out agricultural projects and whose skills will be strengthened. Rural communities and consumers will indirectly benefit from the improved living conditions in their territories.
Local, national, regional and international actors who promote agroecology also benefit from this program through exchanges and established partners (research centers, universities, municipal technical services, local CSOs and existing networks, international NGOs, members of the Caritas Internationalis network).