The Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition, also known as the AAHM, was co- founded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Bioversity International. In June 2010, the AAHM organized an International Consultation called “The Way Forward”.
This consultation brought representatives of National Alliances from across the globe, to Rome, for their first in-person meeting. At that time, two Regional Alliances already existed - the Regional Alliance for Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean and the Sub regional Alliance Against Hunger in West Africa. Since this consultation, many of the AAHM’s National Alliances were inspired to forge partnerships with other National Alliances in their respective regions, resulting in a number of new Regional Alliances Against Hunger and Malnutrition.
As of 2012, three additional Regional Alliances have been created – the Asian Regional Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition, the Regional Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition for Francophone Africa, and the West African Regional Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition. Three more Regional Alliances are expected to constitute in the coming months, including a regional alliance for Arab-speaking countries and East Africa.
The Chair of the AAHM, who is also the Deputy Director General of Bioversity International, Mr. Kwesi Atta-Krah, recently visited the FAO in Rome and shared his thoughts on the creation of regional alliances.
SF: What is the significance of the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition?
KA: The Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition was actually formed to be able to support efforts by various stakeholders aimed at directing policy in such a way that it fights hunger. It is basically a multi-sector aggregation of various organizations - including international organizations and civil society and NGOs. Now, the significance of this Alliance is that – working together – it creates a much stronger voice against hunger. So, the Alliance basically supports initiatives at country level, so that these country alliances can forge plans and strategies that will make sure that they are contributing to the national strategic plans aimed at fighting hunger. And where there are no such plans, they advocate. They advocate for policies that will support the elimination of hunger in a particular country. I would say that the Alliance is even more relevant today than it was at its inception – when it was created – because we know that issues of hunger are actually becoming more and more severe. So, the Alliance actually has a tremendous amount of work still ahead of it.”
SF: You were at the conference in Accra last February when the West African Regional Alliance was constituting. What were your observations regarding that event?
KA: At the conference in Accra, the energy was very positive because there were six national alliances from six countries represented and they all worked together to basically define what the regional alliance should be about and how it can support and add value to the work of national alliances.
SF: When they join forces, what does that allow them to do?
KA: What the regional alliance would see itself as doing, is really facilitating the work of the national alliances. At the end of the day, the major work is what happens in countries, but we do know that the situation in different countries is different from one country to the other, and so it is good to learn what is happening within different countries within the region. It is good to know what is working – what sort of mechanisms are being tried by one country. It is good to know what sort of tools are being used, that could be of benefit, so there is a huge possibility for sharing information. Secondly, there is a capacity development possibility. The regional alliance can facilitate particular capacity development training for members of the national alliances to - give them more skills in how to advocate; give them skills to get involved in the policy formulation process; and things like that. And thirdly, the alliances can also be a mechanism to support fund raising for the national alliances. But I think, that one of the most important parts of the regional alliances, is that the regional alliances should be able to forge strong partnerships with the other regional organizations in that particular region - regional organizations that have policy for agriculture as there dominant theme. If we take the example of West Africa, for instance, there is the ECOWAS, which is the Economic Community for West African States, which has all the countries in the region as members – and this is at a very high political level. I would expect that the Regional Alliance for West Africa, would be able to establish a direct partnership link with such a body, so that they can influence the kinds of decisions that are made at that level of organization. So, for me, that is the most significant contributions that I believe that the regional alliances can make.
SF: Were there any moments at the conference that stood out, in particular?
KA: I think that one particular moment was when we were trying to define the link between the Regional Alliance for Francophone Africa - which had already been initiated. That particular alliance was formed before the West African Alliance idea came up. It covers all of the Francophone African countries. In the West African context we do have a number of Francophone African countries, so the question was whether, ‘the West African Regional Alliance should include the francophone countries who are already members of the Francophone Alliance or not’. That was a very interesting and hot discussion, but at the end of the day, it was recognized that there is value-added for having a West African Alliance which includes both Francophone and Anglophone countries, and language shouldn’t stop a particular country from belonging to the Francophone Alliance, in the francophone language group. I think that was a very positive discussion. It was very heated, but very positive, and ended up with a very good outcome and everyone was satisfied.
SF: Why are these partnerships among national alliances so necessary?
KA: In the African context, for instance, there are what’s known as, the “Economic Blocks”. and within each of those blocks, it’s very difficult for one single national alliance to try to influence things at that level. But a regional alliance can do that in the name of all of the countries. There are great possibilities once the regional block is influenced. Once it is, one can expect that it will be positive for countries that are members of the block, because the issues of hunger and nutrition will be given greater visibility at that block, and that visibility will be able to move down and begin to affect things at the country level where the [national] alliances work.
Story: The significance of regionalization among national alliances within the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition.
Producer: Sandra Ferrari
Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
Details of podcast: In-studio interview with, Mr. Kwesi Atta-Krah (AAHM chair)
Duration: 7 mins 55 secs