Objective Zero Hunger in 2030? What strategy for Solidarités International?

Breeder in Kabo, RCA – 2015, ©Vincent Tremeau
  1. Conflict, Climate Change and Covid 19, the terrible trio that exacerbate global food and economic insecurity

According to the United Nations [1], “Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain an obstacle to sustainable development and create a trap from which it is difficult to escape. Hunger and malnutrition make people less productive, more prone to disease and therefore more often unable to earn more and improve their livelihoods. “Conversely, when people lack economic security because they are dependent on precarious employment or have lost their means of production, they cannot meet their food needs. 690 million people suffer from hunger in 2020, or 8.9% of the world’s population (FAO). Many of these people are in rural areas and yet contribute to feeding the world as farmers, breeders or fishermen. And ironically, people with access to too much food tend to waste it; according to the UN, each year an estimated one third of all food produced, the equivalent of 1.3 billion tons, ends up in the garbage cans of consumers and retailers.

Vegetable farming, Gado, Cameroon – 2019

The Global Food Crisis Report 2020 [2] analyzed the main factors contributing to food and economic insecurity and classified them according to the importance of their impact on populations: 1) conflicts and insecurity, 2) extreme climate shocks, 3) economic shocks. To a lesser extent, the following factors also aggravate food and economic insecurity: crop, livestock and human diseases.

The Covid 19 pandemic has changed this situation, making it one of the main causes of hunger and loss of income in the world again. Indeed, in many countries, restrictions on movement affect access to employment, access to means of production (seeds, etc.) or the sale of products. The income, and consequently the purchasing power of many people, is thus greatly diminished. In addition, the various restrictive measures implemented by governments (containment, border closures) have degraded access to food markets and the supply of food products on these markets, whether produced in the country or imported from abroad, sometimes causing price inflation [3]. David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), speaks of the risk of a “famine pandemic” with 270 million people affected [4]. Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator points out that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance will rise from 168 million in 2020 to 235 million in 2021, a considerable increase of 40%.

Conflicts and climate shocks will also continue to be major causes affecting the food and economic security of many populations in 2021. During conflicts, civilians are often deprived of their sources of income, food systems and markets are disrupted, resulting in higher prices and/or reduced availability of food and productive commodities and tools. Conflicts prevent businesses from operating and weaken the national economy. David Beasley estimated in 2017 that about 60% of the world’s hungry people live in conflict zones. 80% of WFP’s budgets are allocated to war zones. Concerning climatic shocks (floods, droughts, etc.), they affect the livelihoods of populations, especially those who are highly dependent on natural resources (farmers, herders). Land is degraded, crops are destroyed, while livestock struggle to find water for drinking and sufficient pasture. Natural disasters also impact productive and economic infrastructure: roads, bridges, dams, buildings, irrigation networks, etc. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that agricultural yields will decrease by 20% per decade by the end of the 21st century in some areas of the Sahel.

Fishermen from the village of Molo, Marsabit County, Kenya – 2016, ©Axel Fassio
  1. The Food Security and Livelihoods Strategy of Solidarités International 2020-2025

Achieving zero hunger in 2030 as desired by the Sustainable Development Goals seems, according to the situation previously exposed, an unattainable goal since world hunger figures are increasing again, whereas they had managed to decrease between 2005 and 2015 [5]. This increase could even accelerate if the current crises, conflicts, natural disasters, pandemics continue to intensify.

Solidarités International has been working in the SAME sector (Food Security and Livelihoods) since its creation with its first food assistance operations in Afghanistan. The general objective of its SAME interventions, recalled in its 2020 – 2025 strategy [6], is to ensure sustainable food and economic security for populations vulnerable to political, socio-economic, climatic and health shocks.

According to the intervention logic of SOLIDARITES INTERNATIONAL (SI), our SAME activities are part of 3 different phases of intervention to achieve this objective:

How do SAME activities work?

1) Shock absorption: by covering food needs and supporting food markets, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL (SI) helps prevent the risks of hunger and malnutrition and prevents populations from increasing their vulnerability to the crisis.

2) early recovery: through the distribution of productive inputs, technical support and the rehabilitation of economic infrastructure (reconstruction of markets, road rehabilitation, drainage of agricultural fields, etc.), SI contributes to the revival of the population’s economic activities.

3) risk preparedness and adaptation: in-depth analysis of livelihood capacities and vulnerabilities to shocks enables SI to strengthen these livelihoods and diversify them so that they are more resilient. Through the value chain approach, SI strengthens the adaptive capacities of actors along food chains and labor markets.

For 2025, the strategy of the SAME sector focuses on 3 axes:

  •  Developing our emergency response capabilities, particularly by integrating with our Water-Sanitation-Hygiene (WASH) emergency responses to maximize their impact on populations
  •  Better alert and anticipate SAME needs in the face of chronic shocks by participating in food and nutrition security surveillance systems.
  • Develop the long-term adaptive capacities of food and economic systems, particularly in the face of economic and climatic crises.

SI is well involved in the global Food Security cluster co-led by FAO and WFP, where the association is a member of the SAG (Strategic Advisory Group) [7]. 7] It is the voice of NGOs and contributes to the strategic orientation of this cluster and its accountability to its partners and the populations supported by SAME interventions. SI’s objective is to mobilize as many humanitarian actors as possible in order to find relevant, efficient and sustainable solutions to help reduce food and economic insecurity in the world as quickly as possible.

 How is the search for quality and impact of programs organized at Solidarités International?

SI’s Food Safety and Livelihoods (SAME) unit is part of the Deputy Program Operations Department (DOAP), alongside the  Water/Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) and MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning) units, as well as cross-  functional reference points for the Market-Based Approach and Public Health. This Deputy Directorate guarantees the  technical and methodological quality of IS programs. Its mandate is divided into 4 objectives:

To improve the overall quality of IS operations through the development of tools, guides and training, as well as support for  the formulation of intervention logics and the demonstration of the impacts of interventions.

Improve IS technical skills by conducting training, technical workshops and developing technical partnerships

Provide direct technical support to field programs on specific technical aspects or at critical phases (diagnosis of needs,  strategy, implementation, monitoring-evaluation, development of innovations)

Represent SI’s expertise externally to humanitarian coordination networks or networks for the exchange of expertise and  learning (EAH and Food Security Clusters, ALNAP, Global Task Force Cholera, Humanitarian Environment Network, etc.).

Who Is Julie Mayans ?

Trained as an agricultural engineer, she has been working for 15 years in the Food Security and Livelihoods sector (SAME),  emergency development responses in Africa, America and Asia with several NGOs (SI, ACF, CARE, TGH and IFRC). She has  held several positions in the field: Program Manager, Program Coordinator and also Regional Coordinator.

For the past 6 years, she has been working at Solidarités International’s headquarters as a SAME technical advisor and focal  point for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate. Within the technical department, she provides technical support to the  field teams in the different phases of the project cycle (needs assessment, project design, implementation, monitoring and  evaluation). On the other hand, she is responsible for the development and operationalization of the SAME IS strategy and  the technical orientations related to this sector. Finally, she represents SI’s SAME expertise externally to the global food  security cluster and various inter-NGO working groups (Humanitarian Environment Network, DRR Network, Agriculture  Working Group of the cluster).

1] Sustainable Development Goals, UN

2] Global Report on Food Crises 2020: https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000114546/download/?_ga=2.23710714.192553430.1592491272-1602702074.1572458169

3] To go further, see the study of the Covid 19 working group of the Food Security Cluster: https://fscluster.org/sites/default/files/documents/lessons_from_the_wider_industry_with_respect_to_covid_19_and_impact_on_fs.pdf.

4] In addition, the FAO report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020”, although referring to the year 2019, estimated that the Covid-19 pandemic could add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished people in the world by the end of 2020.

5] In ten years, between 2005 and 2015, the number of undernourished people increased from one billion to 800 million, i.e., 200 million fewer people (FAO).

6] SAME Strategy 2020 – 2025: https://www.solidarites.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/strategie-securite-alimentaire-moyens-dexistence-SOLIDARITES-INTERNATIONAL.pdf

7] For more information, see the SAG webpage of the Global Food Security Cluster: https://fscluster.org/page/gfsc-strategic-advisory-group-sag.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Eric Chevallier, Director of the Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Eric Chevallier – Director of the Crisis and Support Center, MEAE – has a long experience of crises and humanitarian action. At the end of the recent National Humanitarian Conference in Paris and at a time when the CDCS’s organization and resources are increasing, we asked him a series of questions for readers of Défis Humanitaires. We thank him for this exclusive interview.


 

Alain Boinet: The 5th National Humanitarian Conference (CNH) was held on December 17th from Paris by video conference. What is your assessment of the conference, in terms of organization and participation, as well as of the 4 round tables on: the impact of anti-terrorist measures on humanitarian aid, IHL and access to aid, the humanitarian-development-peace triple nexus and climate?

Eric Chevallier:

I draw an objectively positive assessment of this, for several reasons. Firstly, this CNH has been maintained despite the pandemic. Of course, the adjusted format in terms of physical participation may have generated some frustration, which must be heard, but this should not invalidate the success of this event.

Secondly, it is the result of a partnership dynamic, a co-construction between the State and humanitarian actors that was remarkable. This approach, and this is very important, really worked, because it was conceived, as soon as the steering committee was set up, in a joint and equal manner. In addition to the work of this steering committee, two other processes were also established, also on a parity basis. On the issue of banking access first, but also on the specific issue of the protection of humanitarian personnel following the tragic events that affected ACTED and all of us on August 9, 2020. These three dynamics converged towards the CNH.

The third element of the success of the CNH is the level of participation (more than 500 people) and representation. At the request of the humanitarian actors, this last one has been raised compared to previous editions, with notably the presence for the first time of a President of the Republic, in this case President Macron, who insisted on maintaining his participation in spite of the situation (Emmanuel Macron tested positive at Covid-19 the same day, editor’s note), of course Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, but also several Nobel Peace Prize winners, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Marc Lowcock, and the President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer. The participation of the President of the Republic marks the interest in these issues at the State summit and the administration’s willingness to get involved.

Fourth, the contributions of the roundtables and plenary presentations were very rich.

The time has now come to follow up on the CNH and implement what was decided during the conference, and from this point of view, I am very pleased that we can now count on an interministerial mechanism to follow up on the 17 commitments made by the President of the Republic. This will make it possible to involve all the ministerial actors concerned in the implementation of these recommendations. The humanitarian actors, who will, of course, remain associated, will remain vigilant. I know this and I understand it perfectly.

Statement by the President of the Republic at the 5th National Humanitarian Video Conference, ©Judith Litvine/MEAE

A.B: As you just pointed out, this is the first time that a President of the Republic has presided over and concluded the CNH since its first edition in 2011. This is a positive signal for the humanitarian community and a milestone in a long process in its relations with the public authorities. What are the main commitments announced by the Head of State?

E.C:

The President of the Republic made 17 commitments that can be grouped into 7 main themes. The first concerns development issues and special drawing rights. Then there is the question of the budgets devoted to emergency action (humanitarian action and stabilization) with the objective of reaching 500 million euros by 2022, which is part of the humanitarian strategy of the French Republic, enshrined in a decision of the CICID (Interministerial Council for International Cooperation and Development). Moreover, the consideration of environmental issues in humanitarian aid is a theme that deserves to be developed and that comes from the humanitarian actors themselves. Another point is the preservation of the humanitarian space, with a certain number of measures at the national level, of course, but also at the European and international levels, and for which the President would like France to play a leading role. Another theme is that of banking access, which we know is a major issue. Then there are the issues of strengthening respect for IHL, which will take different but complementary forms. Finally, the last point is the fight against impunity for attacks against humanitarian workers.

A.B: Humanitarian actors have clearly perceived the advances and progress contained in the declaration of the President of the Republic. However, there are also some regrets and expectations. Indeed, after 3 years of consultation with the public authorities, there has been no significant progress on the issue of bank transfers made difficult by the sanctions regime and anti-terrorism measures. Similarly, humanitarian NGOs were hoping for an exemption in the French penal code based on International Humanitarian Law.  There is therefore disappointment and also concern about the consequences that this could entail as a risk for humanitarian actors. Are we going to take up these files again to move forward?

E.C:

To say that the President of the Republic has not responded to these issues is not accurate.

When we look at the 17 commitments, a certain number concern bank access, asking that in the next six months concrete modalities be clarified. This is what we are working on, and it is part of the action plan for which the President of the Republic has given guidance. It remains technically complex. We hope that this will constitute concrete and operational progress, and that is what the President of the Republic has asked the interministerial dynamic to do.

As for the inclusion in the penal code, and given a number of implications and constraints, the choice was made for an instruction from the Minister of Justice to be sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office with a view to making them aware of this specific issue.

This may not be exactly what some NGOs wanted, but it is an important concrete measure with real implications.

AB: The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Action, Mr. Janez Lenarcic, proposed that all donors should align themselves with the principle of non-screening of the final beneficiaries of aid, as is the practice of the CDCS but not the French Development Agency (AFD). How could this proposal be concretized at the international level?

E.C:

Again, this is part of the 17 presidential commitments. On the subject of humanitarian aid, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) allows the European Union, but also the United Nations and the ICRC, to respect the principle of non-screening of final beneficiaries. The President of the Republic has unambiguously and forcefully stated that this is France’s position. A more complex area is that of aid that is not qualified or qualifiable as humanitarian. At this level work continues.

A.B: Is it the context in which this aid is implemented that constitutes a discriminating criterion between screening and non-screening?

E.C:

I let the work continue on this subject.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at the National Humanitarian Conference, December 17, 2020, ©Judith Litvine/MEAE

A.B: The President of the Republic confirmed the commitments made to increase France’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.55% of RND in 2022, including 500 million euros for humanitarian aid. In this perspective, what was the amount of the Emergency Humanitarian Fund (FUH) in 2020, what will it be in 2021 and what will be the distribution between humanitarian aid, stabilization, programmed food aid and international organizations (NUOI).

E.C:

Within this confirmation of ODA objectives, the President of the Republic confirmed the commitments to triple humanitarian aid between 2018 and 2022 – with an increase from 150 million euros in 2018 to 500 million euros in 2022. There are three main budget lines for this humanitarian aid. They are essentially channeled through the FUH managed by the CDCS, the Programmed Food Aid, and the support to the United Nations Agencies through two other directorates of the Ministry, the DGM and NUOI, with roughly the same envelopes. The increase is very clear, and we have gone through the initial finance law from 150 million euros in 2018, to 287 million in 2020, then to 330 million in 2021, with the objective of increasing to 500 million euros in 2022. As far as CDCS is concerned, there’s a really significant increase, since in 2020 we had an initial budget of 80 million euros, and the breakdown for our budget in 2021 is 110 million euros.

CDCS South Pacific Humanitary Stockpile, ©CDCS

A.B: At the CNH, Mark Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, pointed out that 235 million people needed humanitarian aid this year, compared to 168 million in 2020, an increase of 40%. For his part, David Beasley, executive director of the WFP, said he feared a “famine pandemic” and specified that 270 million people will face extreme hunger in 2021. Will we be able to meet these needs and what is CDCS’s strategy and priorities?  Which countries are you most concerned about?

E.C:

Indeed, everyone is struck by the intersection of these two curves that are on the one hand the increase of means, and on the other hand the restriction of humanitarian space and the actors’ capacity to act. The pandemic has considerably aggravated the intersection of these curves. Attempts must be made to mobilize more resources and increase effectiveness and efficiency. This requires addressing a number of issues related to humanitarian space. This brings us back to the other subjects addressed by the President of the Republic, but also to subjects that have been at the heart of the preparation of the CNH and in particular the round table on the lessons to be learned from the pandemic: pooling of resources and localization. This will be one of the cross-cutting priorities of CDCS’s action this year. Pooling must be made a priority, and the CDCS will continue to support initiatives that go in this direction, such as the work carried out by the Humanitarian Logistics Network – which, in this very dark period, has been a remarkable success in terms of pooling logistical resources by NGOs – supported by France and the European Union.

European Humanitarian Airlift with the Humanitarian Logistics Network, ©CDCS

A.B: A year ago, CDCS launched an evaluation of the FUH (Emergency Humanitarian Fund), the results of which have just been made public. What are the results of this evaluation and what changes can be expected in terms of strengthening CDCS, multi-annual financing and is there a risk that the FUH will lose its real capacity for reactivity recognized by all the actors?

E.C:

This is an important question. I think it’s positive that, since I took office as CDCS director in the fall of 2018, we have been working hard to strengthen accountability. This is a sine qua none condition for increasing resources, without ignoring the impact this has on the work of humanitarian aid workers. To this end, we have created an audit and evaluation unit that allows us to work both internally and externally. Then we wanted to go further by calling for an external evaluation of the tool that the FUH represents with a steering committee chaired by Benoit Miribel, whose work I would like to commend. I think that this is part of a transparency that is imperative, and that it allows us to be more effective and efficient. A certain number of proposals were presented during a remote meeting attended by around 100 people, which shows the interest of all the players in this subject. We are working on each of these proposals to see if and how we can implement them. They are each being studied very seriously.

To answer the question on multi-year funding, I stressed, during the restitution meeting, the need to be very careful to find the right “crest line” between injunctions that may seem contradictory. Indeed, the evaluation – which was also conducted in the field and questioned many actors – stressed, to their satisfaction, the reactive, flexible and rapid nature of this tool. These are essential criteria and qualities that are consubstantial with the FUH, with the advantage for humanitarian actors of being able to then go and seek other funding. However, I hear the recommendations calling for multi-year programming and more planning with other tools, particularly within the nexus framework. But this must not be done to the detriment of the recognized qualities of this emergency fund. This is why I speak of the “crest line”, and this is why I say that all the proposals will be seriously analyzed in the light of these sometimes seemingly contradictory injunctions, at least on the surface.

Humanitarian aid sent to Lebanon in August 2020, ©CDCS

A.B: Benoit Miribel stressed, during the recent public restitution of the FUH evaluation, that whenever there was complementarity between civil society and public authorities, there was great progress. Thus, 10 years ago, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, of whom you were the special advisor, entrusted Benoit Miribel and me with a report entitled “Analyses and Proposals on Humanitarian Action in Crisis and Post-Crisis Situations”. This report contributed, in conjunction with the CDCS, to major progress for humanitarian action in France, with the creation of the Humanitarian Action Group, the National Humanitarian Conference and the Humanitarian Strategy of the French Republic (SHRF). However, a reform of ODA has recently been launched which includes humanitarian aid. In addition, the Strategy of the French Republic expires in 2022 and a new phase of this Strategy for the period 2023-2027 is to be anticipated. Isn’t it time to make this ODA reform coincide, if not coordinate, with the updating of the humanitarian strategy (SHRF) and its means?

E.C:

This CNH was held at the halfway point of the French humanitarian strategy, and we still have at least 18 months to draw the necessary lessons. I would like to remind you that in Parliament, the discussion of the development bill put forward by Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is underway. It was a long-awaited bill, which in the current context was not necessarily self-evident, and is now on the agenda of the National Assembly and the Senate. I do not wish to pre-empt the parliamentary debate. I believe that today we must give parliamentarians the opportunity to take up this humanitarian issue. I was struck very positively by the strong involvement of several parliamentarians who are very involved and very knowledgeable about the issues at stake in the preparation and conduct of the CNH. This is a strong signal for humanitarian aid and development.

Eric Chevallier in Sinjar (Iraq) on the construction site of the future operating block – October 2019, ©CDCS

A.B: Would you like to complete this interview by concluding it?

E.C:

I will conclude on a perhaps more personal note, to say that I am very happy to have taken over the leadership of the CDCS in the fall of 2018. I find that we are in a rich period from the point of view of humanitarian action and dialogue between the State and non-governmental actors. The challenges are certainly greater, but the opportunity to work together is increasing, and to do so with respect for each other. I know the humanitarian world from the inside, although it is no longer my function today, and that is why I can understand the current challenges. We can work together while naturally respecting each other’s missions, perimeters and identities. We’ve made a lot of progress from this point of view when you look back at the previous decades, during which there was a form of misunderstanding. I believe that we have collectively broken down a number of preconceptions and postures that were an obstacle to true dialogue and the construction of a partnership. This does not prevent each of us from defending our identity and concerns in a clear, frank and constructive manner. When I leave the CDCS, it will be with the deep satisfaction of having, I hope, contributed to the densification of this dynamic. There is still a long way to go, but it is a positive and notchy evolution, which should be a barrier to an undesirable backtracking. To do so, we must maintain a dialogue of trust, again sincere and frank. I’m relatively confident on this subject, because if we’ve been able to do all this for three years it’s because there is a formidable team within the CDCS that has become more professional and has taken ownership of these issues with a concern for rich and constant dialogue. It is a capital that will not be lost. And I would like to thank the CDCS team, especially the one in charge of humanitarian and stabilization issues, for the commitment, dedication and absolutely remarkable work that has enabled us to move forward.

Who is Eric Chevallier?

A graduate of the University of Paris V – School of Medicine and Sciences-Po Paris, Eric Chevallier has nearly 30 years of experience in French diplomacy and in the field of crises and conflicts.

He was Ambassador to Syria from 2009 to 2012, then Ambassador for Syria from 2012 to 2014 following the closure of the Embassy, before being appointed Ambassador of France to Qatar. From 2007 to 2009, he worked as special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Previously, he was Director of International Missions for the NGO Médecins du Monde. He was also successively Deputy Delegate and National Coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for French aid to tsunami-affected countries. He has also held the positions of Deputy Director for International Crisis Follow-up at the General Secretariat of National Defense, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Special Advisor to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Technical Advisor to the Secretary of State for Health, Delegate General of the NGO Aide Médicale Internationale, member of the UNAIDS creation team, and Program Manager at the International Children’s Centre.

Eric Chevallier was named Knight of the Legion of Honor in 2012.

EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ACTION AND STABILIZATION IN CRISIS ZONES

 The two missions of the CDCS are the security of French citizens abroad on the one hand, and humanitarian response and support for stabilization on the other. The humanitarian response aims to meet the vital needs of populations facing large-scale crises.  Stabilization support is provided to support post-crisis recovery in post-conflict contexts, to meet the needs of populations and to support the recovery of the State.

 KEY EVENTS IN 2020

  • A total executed budget of 126 million euros in 2020 (compared to 92 million euros in 2019)
    • 3 million entered in the initial 2020 finance law (compared to ’45 million in 2019).
    • 7 million euros of additional appropriations granted during the year to meet specific humanitarian needs or political priorities (presidential program for Syria, consequences of Covid-19, fund to support victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East).
  • 250 projects financed in 31 countries.
  • 86 NGOs financed, out of more than 100 public and private partners.
  • Significant support to French NGOs, which receive nearly 70% of the funding granted to NGOs.