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Using small-scale adaptation actions to address the food crisis in the horn of Africa: going beyond food aid and cash transfers

The consequences of the rise in food prices have demonstrated that the world’s food systems are not responding adequately to increased demand and limited supplies in ways that favour the interests of poor people. The crisis is exacerbated by the impact of climate change, droughts and land degradation on agricultural production and food systems. This paper demonstrates the value of small scale innovative interventions, carried out using democratic approaches in Uganda to help support adaptation to climate change whilst ensuring food security and charting a new path to eliminate hunger. It focuses on the current drought affecting people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

The paper picks lessons learned from the UN-led project in Uganda to suggest the following ways forward to tackle the current droughts plaguing the Horn of East Africa and elsewhere.

  • The current method of intensive crop production cannot meet the challenges and should be replaced by investment in a new food production model using small-scale fiscal stimulus that mobilises the untapped potential of local people.
  • Small scale solutions guided by scientific research are very critical in achieving food security.
  • New research and thinking will be indispensable in the adaptation of farming systems to the challenges of climate change.
  • Research conducted and developed through democratic approaches will serve farmers working in the most difficult conditions better.
  • The lessons learnt from this project demonstrate that exposing food security solutions to the public by presenting it as a democratic issue helps counterbalance the influence of vested interests.
  • With transparency and accountability to those whom it is meant to serve, small scale adaptation solutions to food systems could spread their benefits much more evenly across communities of farmers and consumers alike.
  • The lessons learnt demonstrate that the democratisation of food security solutions has begun in farmers’ fields and must be the guiding vision to address the current droughts plaguing the Horn of East Africa and elsewhere.

The paper concludes that with proper planning, transparent resource management, innovative food security policies and integrative agriculture inputs and outputs, the Horn of Africa’s food crisis will be turned into an opportunity.