A shepherd wants to graze his sheep in Mauritania, the Western Sahel, in the early morning. Peacebuilding and stability in the region depend on solving the challenge of food and security, says the African Development Bank. Photo credit: Kristin Palitza / IPSBONN, Nov 03 (IPS) – When Jamila Ben Baba founded her company, the first private slaughterhouse in Mali, in 2013, she did so in the middle of a civil war when Tuareg rebels banded together in an attempt to create a new northern state called Azawad to manage.
Originally from Timbuktu in northern Mali – where much of the civil war took place – Ben Baba started the business in the country’s western region, Kayes.
She started her business with a deep desire to develop one of the country’s first rural raw materials – cattle. Her goal was to promote Malian meat and “make it known both in the sub-region and internationally,” and she built the business into the largest private slaughterhouse in the West African nation.
She said that while her company created 100 jobs, the company was developing in a very difficult political and social context.
“War and jihadists are widespread in central and northern Mali, which puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to the supply of livestock. The ranchers are forced to move around for their own safety and that of their animals,” she said on Monday, April 2nd. November.
A report released earlier this year by Amnesty International found that widespread insecurity, food insecurity and more than 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid had left the region in crisis. In addition, the global coronavirus pandemic should make the situation worse.
Ben Baba spoke at the annual meeting of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, which brought together various stakeholders to call on Member States to increase appropriations for the Commission’s Peacebuilding Fund. The Peacebuilding Fund is used as the first tool to respond to conflict and prevent it.
But the effects of an August 18 coup and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have plunged the country into an unprecedented economic crisis, she said.
“Closed borders have slowed our exports. Several orders in Ghana and Guinea have been canceled.”
Hotels closed during the pandemic restrictions caused their company’s sales to decline more than half, she said.
Ben Baba’s business success and the success of other companies and industries in the country and on the continent are directly related to peace.
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “Africa’s positive growth forecast has definitely derailed and hit the poorest and most vulnerable particularly hard, especially in fragile states,” said Khaled Sherif, Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Operations at the African Development Bank (AfDB) remains “a direct link between poverty and extreme poverty and terrorism, as can currently be observed in the Sahel zone”.
“The rise in violent extremism in the Sahel is related to the conditions that the population is exposed to in their daily life. Many parts of the Sahel have never seen electricity, they have no access to drinking water, education is of the utmost importance, therefore connects this will obviously lead to a deterioration in the security situation, “said Sherif during the same meeting.
It is not surprising that in regions with chronic food insecurity, especially in Africa, “sooner or later it becomes unstable”.
“We are all aware of the devastating consequences this means for peace, stability and social cohesion,” said Sherif.
However, Ben Baba is convinced that her business could affect different development factors within the country at different levels.
“From bridges on our land to improving Mali’s trade balance with the creation of added value, of course, creating jobs in the Kayes region, which is usually the first emigration region, especially for young people,” said Ben Baba said.
A 2018 World Bank report showed that Mali needed to diversify its exports as “gold and cotton account for over 80 percent of total exports”. The report also suggested that “an agriculture-based strategy to diversify light industry can bring about structural change by creating abundant and better-paid jobs for low-skilled Malians”.
Sherif asked the Peacebuilding Commission to address basic needs at the community level and prioritize them accordingly.
“If generations of farmers cannot get out of substance farming, there is always a risk of conflict,” said Sherif. He said that while there have been many development partner initiatives in this area, none of them have reached the required scale.
“The Peacebuilding Commission should therefore focus on increasing these interventions to avoid fragile communities that lead to insecurity,” he said.
He said that in Africa, where more than half of the 1.3 billion people live below the poverty line of less than $ 2 a day, “our priority must be to create wealth and that brings us back to reality how we develop value chains, “said Sherif.
He added that the AfDB saw the African continental free trade area as an opportunity to create some level of resilience.
He pointed out, however, that in a continent of 54 countries, 26 countries had GDP growth of 5 percent or more, but in the same countries GDP per capita fell, leading to inequality.
“How do African countries get richer, but the citizens of Africa actually get poorer? If we don’t address this issue, we are not addressing the fundamental reality of stability, which will be an ongoing problem, Africa, especially fragile states, will be an ongoing problem for concern many years, “said Sherif.
Although there were many ways to address the issues, Sherif said it was important “to start with the people and communities that people live in, as this is where conflict ultimately manifests itself”.
He said that villages, towns, cities, local governments and communities could take certain measures to mobilize the investments needed to address the problems at their roots.
“Our experience shows that local food security can be improved by bringing groups of producers together to pool cash resources and using local technology to help with basic food processes. These are investments that can be made locally to create jobs and create profit sharing opportunities that improve income. ”
However, Ben Baba highlighted the barriers women faced in accessing investment in their country.
“As a woman, it is very difficult to be involved in this very masculine world, where the cultural barrier with prejudices against the female gender is very pronounced.
“Getting funding in a high-risk country remains complex,” she said. And if funding were given, the rates would be too high to affect the company’s results, she explained.
“Indeed, women know that the cultural problem with raising funds is due to a lack of trust in women,” she said.
She said that to convince a bank it had to invest almost 80 percent of a project’s equity, and yet “we received very poor support from the banking network.”
“The Malian industry is underdeveloped and the ones women invest in don’t exist,” she said. “Attracting and convincing investors is almost impossible,” she added.
However, Sherif stressed the importance of “finding a model that is specific to regional development, specific to community development, specific to wealth creation, so that we can start creating levels of consumption.” which is based on increasing disposable income. ” can begin to break this chain of unavailability of income growth, desperation, and then a lack of security. ”
In a recorded message, United States Secretary-General António Guterres said he saw great value in enriching the United States’ partnership with international monetary funds.
“Sustained support for peacebuilding cannot come from a single actor. It requires a multi-layered strategy with multiple tiers of funding; bilateral, multilateral and international financial lines working together,” he said.
Guterres urged donors to reverse a worrying trend and commit to spending at least 20 percent of official development aid on peacebuilding priorities in conflict situations.
“If the world is to recover from COVID-19, countries will need carefully designed and conflict-sensitive support to get back on a sustainable microeconomic footing,” said Guterres.
But he said the requirements for the fund far exceeded the resources.
“We had to reduce our goal for 2020 by 30 billion US dollars,” said Guterres. Some Member States had already responded to his request for unspent committed peacekeeping budgets and he urged others to do so.
Guterres welcomed the work of both the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
“It is important that these funds help combat drivers of conflict, reach marginalized areas and meet important governance requirements, especially those that create the conditions for private sector investment.”
Guterres said more could be done to advance innovative peacebuilding financing solutions, including partnerships with the private sector.
But Sherif pointed out, “Until we solve the food and security challenge, we have not solved the problem of fragility and will continue to experience crisis after crisis.”
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