A critical look at the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Senegal

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 Food diversity illustrated in Guinea BissauCredit: Patricia Charest Mugaweza

Canada’s support for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) in Senegal has demonstrated that the model of public-private partnership is not necessarily the most effective way to meet development goals.  This is according to research conducted in Senegal and Canada by the Canadian Food Security Policy Group (FSPG), a coalition of Canadian civil society organisations engaged in global food security of which Inter Pares is a member. This policy brief presents key findings from the research.  For details, refer to the full report: Is Private Investment in Agriculture the Solution? An Evaluation of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Senegal.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) was launched by the G8 in 2012, to build on previous G8 efforts, especially the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative of 2009. Whereas L’Aquila rallied governments to invest public funds in food security, NAFSN appealed to private sector companies, both national and multinational, to “achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years”. Since its inception, NAFSN has drawn attention and concern worldwide. Reasons include:

  • There are questions around  the legitimacy of using public aid money in ways that would provide clear benefits (image, policy influence) for private corporations;
  • There are questions around accountability, transparency and governance of these projects, when public officials are not in the driver’s seat, nor are companies directly accountable to them;
  • It is unclear and unproven how partnerships with private sector companies would provide any benefit for the poorest and most vulnerable;
  • The initiative seemed to give priority to large-scale agricultural models and global value chains that have been linked to social and environmental costs;
  • Partnering with multinational corporations that have questionable or no clear relation to advancing development goals (e.g. Coca-Cola, Monsanto, and Guinness).

Among the G8 countries, Canada took a leadership role in supporting Senegal within NAFSN, and  committed CAD 80 million over four  years (2013 to 2017). According to the cooperation agreement with Senegal, the initiatives will aim to: “support rural economic development, improved access to credit, increased production, agricultural product marketing and development, and nutrition. In particular, the initiatives will address the challenges and opportunities that women face in rural economies.”

In 2015-2016, the Canadian Food Security Policy Group (FSPG) carried out research to shed light on NAFSN, its impacts in Senegal, and the role of Canada within it. The evaluation was conducted by an independent researcher and guided by an advisory committee composed of FSPG members and academics. The 18 month-long research project was based on a literature review, 6 months of field work in Senegal and 60 key informant interviews with local NGOs, Canadian officials based  in Senegal and Canada, Senegalese Government, private sector companies involved in NAFSN, and multilateral agencies.

This research found no evidence that NAFSN’s approach of partnering with the private sector was effective in reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, or addressing the challenges faced by women in the Senegalese context. Based on previous research and decades of experience, the FSPG believes that Canada could more effectively achieve these goals by investing aid funds in programs to support smallholder farmers and their organizations.

 

 

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