The food and nutrition crises of 2005, 2008 and 2012, which the West African region experienced, challenge policy makers on the key role of social safety nets in improving food and nutrition security and in the capacity of these instruments to provide adequate responses to the root causes of hunger.
- ECOWAS Response and Leadership
To support policy makers in the sub-region in their desire to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, the ECOWAS Regional Support Program for National Social Safety Nets includes actions that target access to basic social services.
- Lessons Learned
Support from technical and financial partners, specifically the Spanish Cooperation, with a grant of five million Euros, has enabled the ECOWAS Commission, over the past six years, to develop and implement social safety net instruments focused on child nutrition, health, and education, through pilot projects in the Member States.
The combination of school feeding programs and local agricultural production contributed to the purchase of a large portion of the crops from rural producers, thus improving their sources of income.
The screening for malnutrition and the distribution of nutrition supplements for young children as well as the provision of food was coupled with the education of mothers, who were trained in preparing fortified food for their children. This initiative was also coupled with the strengthening of women’s production capacities through the provision of agricultural production kits.
Besides, support to income-generating activities and in-kind food transfers has helped to meet immediate household food needs. Community education and training sessions on health, nutrition and hygiene/sanitation for mothers and children have contributed to a change of behaviour conducive to development.
- Way Forward
Going forward, the ECOWAS Commission will continue the experiments conducted in the areas of school feeding, transfer of nutritional products and production kits to pastoralists, agropastoralists and farmers facing pastoral crises, lean seasons, and food insecurity.
To recall, nutrition, health and education of children are key components of the ECOWAS Regional Program to support national social safety nets in West Africa.
In this context, the Spanish cooperation wishes to continue its collaboration with ECOWAS in supporting the most vulnerable households in West Africa. Other technical and financial partners are also called upon.
As a reminder and for information purposes, here is the link to the video on the Access to Basic Social Services : https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1bF3EevBMpMLyyvjs7DHr91LV8hgv-9wB