The Covid-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on West African economies, which are among the most open to international trade in the world. Added to this is the fact that most West Africans do not have a guaranteed fixed income, the drop in income raises fears of a major food crisis.
More than fifty professionals contributed to discussion #9 of the Pafao-Roppa-Jafowa forum, mainly from Senegal and Burkina Faso. If the sanitary situation seems to be under control, the economic consequences are disastrous for the populations.
Direct effects on agricultural sectors :
- production difficulties;
- marketing difficulties (aggravated by the extroversion of sectors and by the measures taken that favour large operators and imported products) with, all the same, innovations to circumvent the barriers to marketing.
=> The risk of a decrease in supply is looming in the medium term.
A food access crisis is feared
In mid-2020, the main difficulty is the decline in income. The general feeling is that "money is no longer flowing". In West Africa, ECOWAS figures show that, in the context of the health crisis, about 51 million people are currently under pressure and are likely to fall into crisis by June-August 2020. Apess also fears that undernourishment and malnutrition will particularly affect children and breastfeeding women, with long-term consequences: an increase in pathologies linked to dietary deficiency and infant mortality.
Acting on long-term resilience: promoting local consumption
West African countries seem to have reacted very quickly and effectively to the health aspects. Economist Felwine Saar responds to the alarmist rhetoric: "Even if the continent is doing rather well, a disaster is to be predicted. Anything but admitting that Africa is coping with Covid-19. " It is an interesting reflection that should not prevent us from warning that, on the one hand, life expectancy is still much lower and, on the other hand, the economic implications, especially those of the measures and restrictions to limit the pandemic, are disastrous for a large majority of the population.
This health crisis shows to what extent the mechanisms for anticipating and regulating major crises are fragile and defective. It raises the question of the future of the food systems that support 60% of the population and the position of local consumers on West African markets. The productionist model, in a deregulated globalized system, degrades ecosystems and represents an impasse for the sustainability and development of family farming. Sustainable food systems based on an economical management of resources are a necessity and a real opportunity for rural economies.
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