The Regional Food Security Reserve is taking shape
In its first information letter, the ECOWAS Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) provided an update on the implementation of the Regional Food Security Reserve. Thanks to the support of partners, notably the European Union, the first physical stock of 11 200 tonnes of cereals (millet, maize, sorghum, rice) has now been established and seven national storage companies have been selected. To date, food stocks are stored in four countries (Yendi in Ghana, Kédougou in Burkina Faso, Dosso and Zinder in Niger; and in Gombe in Nigeria). The aim is to build a physical stock of 60 000 tons for the first 4-year period. The European Union contributed EUR 56 million to the initiative, which supported the purchase of about half of the necessary stock. The rest of the financing is supposed to come from ECOWAS resources. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a total storage capacity of 1 million tonnes by 2020. However, the physical stock is only one component (one third) of the ECOWAS Food Storage Strategy, which also includes a financial component (two-thirds) aimed at reducing costs and diversifying food assistance. The Regional Food Security Reserve is a third line of response to food crises, after the local/community-level and national food reserves. Adopted in February 2013 at the ECOWAS Heads of State Conference in Yamoussoukro, the reserve is an important instrument of regional solidarity. The food crisis in northeast Nigeria was the first test case for the newly established reserve. Following a request from the Nigerian government, in August 2017, ECOWAS delivered some 1 800 tonnes of cereals to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to help vulnerable populations of Borno, Gombe, Adamawa and Yobe States.