Rome, 15 January 2014 — Ambassadors and representatives from Arab countries, researchers, and development partners will gather at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) headquarters in Rome, Italy, on Thursday 16 January to discuss how the Arab region can work together to reduce the impact of crises like conflict, natural disasters and global spikes in food prices, especially on the rural poor.
Organized by IFAD, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), the workshop, titled “Enhancing Resilience to conflict in Arab countries through research and Arab Spatial 2.0”, will examine ways in which policymakers and development agencies can enhance collaboration to improve the lives of people in the region. The workshop itself is part of a three-year research project, “Reducing Vulnerability to Conflict in the MENA Region”, conducted jointly by IFAD, IFPRI, and PIM to promote innovative approaches and gain insights into rural poverty in conflict areas.
“We seek to figure out how we can apply research to development,” said Khalida Bouzar, Director of the Near East, North Africa and Europe Regional Division at IFAD. “How can IFAD's work in the relevant Arab countries complement research undertaken by IFPRI and its CGIAR sister agencies and how can the findings be used on the ground, within the context of IFAD's investments to make them more sustainable and impactful?”
An estimated 21 million people in Egypt, or some 25.2 percent of the country’s population, were suffering from poverty and poor food consumption at last count. In Yemen, the number of people who do not know where their next meal is coming from has spiked to 44 percent, up from 32 percent in 2009.
However, new research shows that the story is a complex one: While political crises certainly lead to food insecurity, the lack of reliable nutrition can also be one cause of conflict. Notably, food insecurity was one of the factors that led to the Arab awakening, during which people took to the streets demanding “more bread, dignity and justice”.
The workshop will also see the launch of Arab Spatial 2.0, an open-access and interactive online tool that provides food security and development-related information in the Arab world at national, subnational and pixel levels.