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Idris and Sabrina Elba call for investments in rural agriculture to fight rising hunger
Saturday, 2020/10/24 | 05:37:14

IFAD News - 19 October 2020

 

For Idris Elba, returning to Sierra Leone late last year was about two things: reconnecting with his roots and learning about the challenges facing the country where his father was born, so that he could become a better advocate for its people.

 

The actor, producer, and humanitarian took part in a project field visit with his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba, the model and activist, organized by the United Nations’ International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) and Global Citizen last December.

 

During the trip, the group traveled to the rural town of Maboikandor, just outside of the capital Freetown, and met with smallholder farmers, local leaders, and development facilitators.

 

The trip highlighted the tremendous agricultural and economic potential of the region, but also its widespread poverty, lack of institutional support, and the worsening impacts of climate change.

 

Even though agriculture accounts for 59% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 62% of the population, food production in Sierra Leone is low by global standards and climate change threatens tenuous gains that have been made since the country’s civil war ended in 2002 and, more recently, successive Ebola outbreaks.

 

“There’s a real sort of pressure point on what’s happening to our climate globally,” Elba said in a short film about the trip. “Climate change is making huge, huge impacts on hunger and starvation. People can’t live if the temperature rises.”

 

“We’re at a pivotal option where actually we can change that by the awareness that we create, in time for us to prevent future generations from suffering,” he added.

 

In the months since the trip, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated rural, agricultural communities and created an unprecedented food crisis around the world. In April, due to their passion for the issues, the Elbas were designated United Nations’ goodwill ambassadors for IFAD by the UN Secretary General, with a mandate to raise awareness on food security and climate change.

 

Together, since the crisis began, the Elbas and IFAD have mobilized emergency resources to support farming communities by supplying equipment, seeds, and cash assistance; helping with crop storage and transportation; supporting livestock and fisheries; providing timely information on weather and markets; and helping out with loans.

 

This World Food Day, the Elbas are calling on countries to invest in IFAD to fight the growing hunger crisis, empower farmers, and create resilient communities in places like Maboikandor.

 

This coming December, countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, and others have the opportunity to increase their funding to sustainable agriculture through IFAD’s replenishment. With $1.75 billion, IFAD can double its impact by 2030 and help more rural communities recover from the pandemic and rebuild their lives.

 

“COVID-19 confirms what we know from Ebola, SARS, and other crises: that our world is one world, and that the impact of disease, climate change, poverty, hunger, and inequality cannot be contained within a country or region,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of IFAD, at the launch of the IFAD multi-donor COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility. “The ripple effects touch us all — but have an especially devastating impact on those already poor and hungry. We need to invest in them and keeping food systems running through this pandemic, so that the world’s most vulnerable people can still feed their families and earn an income.”

“IFAD needs more assistance to carry on the work that is desperately needed to keep food systems operating in rural areas if we are to come out of this crisis together and avoid needless hunger and suffering,” Elba said. “Farmers produce the food that ends up on our tables. Unfortunately, they also bear the brunt of climate change.”

 

See more: https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/story/asset/42126514

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