Fight against food crises: ECOWAS invites its partners to analyse and adopt regional local storage reference documents
Wednesday, 15 November, 2023 - 15:00

Stakeholders and partners of the food system in West Africa are meeting in Lomé from 14 to 18 November to launch the local storage memento and finalize the charter on the operation of local stocks in West Africa and the multi-stakeholder framework.

This regional meeting is part of the implementation of the ECOWAS regional storage strategy.  The storage of food products is a very old practice in rural areas to cope with lean periods marked by food shortages and famine, as well as climatic risks. In this storage system, local stocks play a major role in the various aspects of food security, particularly (i) in preventing and managing cyclical and short-term food crises (in deficit areas), including pastoral crises (livestock feed), and (ii) in supplying the market and national and regional food security stocks (in surplus areas).

Despite this importance, stakeholders and partners did not have reference documents to guide the success of storage activities at local level.

Under the coordination of ECOWAS, stakeholders gathered to develop a local storage handbook, a charter of good practice for local storers and a multi-actor intervention framework.

With the support of governments, professional organizations and its technical and financial partners, ECOWAS is providing support at each of these levels. These efforts were hailed by Bassiaka DAO, the representative of the regional networks of farmers' organizations, livestock breeders and pastoralists, who expressed the gratitude of the regional farmers' networks to ECOWAS and its technical and financial partners for the inclusive process and, above all, for the publication of the reference manuals, which are real guides for those working in the field to ensure the success of local storage initiatives, and which also strengthen the capacities of those working at grassroots level.

The Lomé meeting is therefore an opportunity to bring together the stakeholders in local storage and to submit the documents drawn up to them for validation and dissemination. For this reason, Alain SY TRAORE, ECOWAS Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed his satisfaction at seeing this process move forward with significant results thanks to the involvement of all stakeholders. In particular, he commended the involvement of producer organizations: "Producer organizations have taken the lead in the process both at the political level, with the involvement of regional networks, and at the more technical level, with the considerable investment of their storage managers in the production of these reference tools on local storage.

Faced with the multiple shocks facing the region, leading to an impressive increase in the number of vulnerable people unable to cover their basic needs, ECOWAS is banking on the simultaneous deployment of local storage, national stocks and the Regional Food Security Reserve.

The representative of the Togolese Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, Colonel AGADAZI Ouro-Koura, welcomed the holding of this meeting, which is a sign of the mobilization of stakeholders and partners to curb the food crises faced by many people in West Africa, and in this respect, local storage is a solution to the fight against food insecurity: "Local stocks, which represent the first line of defence in the face of food crises, play an important role in securing supplies during the lean period and as an instrument in the fight against price rises. They provide supplies to people affected by food shortages by making physical stocks rapidly available", he emphasised.

At the end of the Lome meeting, the guide to local storage in West Africa will be presented to all the stakeholders before its official launch; the charter on the operation of local stocks in West Africa will be finalised with the involvement of the stakeholders, and the process of drawing up the multi-actor intervention framework for local storage will be presented with a view to its finalisation.

About the Local Storage Reference Manuals

  1. The Local Storage Memento in West Africa is a reference manual for the region, providing organisations involved in this activity with a clear codification of good practice in all areas relating to their activity, based on their own practical experience. It is written in language that is easy for organisations to understand, illustrated with simple diagrams, and can be translated into national languages ;
  2. The charter of good practice for local storers is a reference tool produced by capitalising on best practice in the region. It is designed to guide the development of local storage based on accumulated and capitalised knowledge and to contribute to the gradual structuring of local organisations and their unions, federations, and networks. The charter is based on a set of standards that provide minimum guarantees of good management in terms of governance, as well as technical and financial management. The charter concerns all stakeholders involved in the management of food security issues in West Africa. If storage organisations sign up to the charter, it will be easier to mobilise external support and enter contracts with the two lines of defence.
  3. The multi-actor regional intervention framework defines a shared vision of local storage and its place in the overall storage system. It enables national and regional organisations to gain a better understanding of how it works, so that they can fine-tune cooperation arrangements and negotiate contractual relations with public and humanitarian institutions. It takes into account the food-livestock component.
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