The World Bank has approved the second phase of West Africa’s regional Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP-2), earmarking $315 million in financing to increase the robustness of food systems in Ghana, Chad, and Sierra Leone. 

The approved funding comes after three consecutive years of a major food and nutrition crisis in the region, each year worse than the last.

World Bank estimates from May indicate that some 33.4 million people in West Africa will require food assistance in 2022, up from the already high 2020 and 2021 figures of 14.4 and 23.7 million people, respectively.

Experts largely attribute the worsening situation this year to factors like land degradation, geopolitical conflict, and the residual impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ousmane Diagana, vice president for Western and Central Africa at the World Bank, said, “Facilitating the trade of agricultural goods and inputs within and across national borders in West Africa is a key element to address food insecurity in the region.” 

The purpose of FSRP-2

According to a World Bank report, the new financing will help to: 

  1. increase the effectiveness of agriculture and food crises prevention and management and strengthen the capacities to adapt to climate variability and change, 
  2. strengthen the adaptive capacity of the food system’s productive base and make it sustainable, and 
  3. support the regional food market’s integration by linking the beneficiary countries, consolidating their food reserve systems, and strengthening the development of strategic regional value chains. 

In total, analysts estimate that these measures will reduce food insecurity by 25% and increase intra-regional trade by 30%. 

Massandjé Toure-Litse, commissioner for economic affairs and agriculture at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said, “Climate change, environmental degradation, insecurity, COVID-19 implications, and the war in Ukraine have deteriorated food security across West Africa.” 

“FSRP-2 further expands cooperation across the ECOWAS region to ensure food security, now and into the future.”  

Other phases of the FSRP

The first phase of the program, approved in November 2021 and launched in June 2022, brought $330 million worth of funding.

With the funding approval from this second phase, the FRSP program now amounts to a total of $645 million worth of funding. 

Funding from phase one was designated for the nations of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Togo as well as three regional organisations.

These organisations include the ECOWAS, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and the West and Central Africa Council for Agriculture Research and Development (CORAF)

In total, experts expect FSRP-1 and FSRP-2 to directly impact 4.35 million people across West Africa, with a focus on women and youth.