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Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - March 30, 2020. The sum of one million CFA francs was handed over this morning to the Ministry of Health in Burkina Faso by AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, Dr. Ahmed Elmekass. 

This amount represents "the symbolic and united contribution" that the staff of the Historical Office of the African Union in Ouagadougou have voluntarily agreed to consent to the host country to assist in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. "Each staff member, comprised of several nationalities, has voluntarily agreed to cede an amount representing 5% of the salary for the month of March to feed this donation," said the Coordinator, who is also the Dean of inter-African organizations. "By this gesture, we also hope to inspire our partners from other institutions," he added.

In his response to the Coordinator, Mr. SORGHO Emmanuel, Director of Cabinet of the Ministry of Health, thanked, on behalf of the government and the people of Burkina Faso, the staff AU SAFGRAD for their very appreciable gesture symbolizing active African solidarity. Also attended to the ceremony, half a dozen close collaborators of the Minister who was unable to attend.

Burkina Faso, like 46 other African countries and the vast majority of countries in the world, has been hit hard by the pandemic of the new coronavirus. As of March 29, the country officially counted 222 confirmed cases of Covid-19 including 23 people healed and unfortunately 12 dead.

Established for more than forty years in the capital city of Burkina Faso, AU SAFGRAD is the specialized technical office of the African Union Commission in charge of agricultural research and development in the semi-arid zones of Africa.


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Celebrations of the Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai: March, 1-4, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Celebrations of the Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai: March, 1-4, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Africa Environment Day was designated in 2002 by the then Organization of the African Unity Council of Ministers in their meeting in Durban, South Africa. In January 2012, the African Union adopted a decision calling for the joint celebrations of the African environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day. 

From 1st to 4th of March, Freetown, Capital City of the Republic of Sierra Leone, hosted the celebrations of the 2020 Edition Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day (AE&WMD) with the theme: “Our Resources, Our Future”. 

The annual AU event, that gathered dozens of participants coming from national and international organizations, featured a Women Forum (March, 1st-2nd), an official launching ceremony (March, 3rd) and field visits (March, 4th). For circumstances out of our control, we were not able to participate to the field visits.

Objective of the Celebrations

The overall objective of the celebration of Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day was to raise awareness at regional and national levels. The commemoration of the Day offered an opportunity for reflection and stock taking on the environmental challenges and of course, opportunities for the African continent. 

The 2020’s theme (“Our Resources, Our Future”) underpins the importance of natural resources like land, forests and biodiversity for the welfare of human society through space and time.

 The official banners of the event were designed, prepared and made by AU SAFGRAD Office and brought to the host country by the Senior Communications Officer.

Key Highlights of the AE&WMD 2020

The AE&WMD 2020 event was attended by various participants including Government officials (Ministers, MPs, etc.), private sector representatives, NGOs, Civil Societies, youth groups, women associations and International Community such as UNEP, AUDA NEPAD, ECOWAS Commission, FAO, World Bank, etc. AUC delegation, including AU SAFGRAD, was led by HE Amb. Josefa SACKO, Commissioner of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture. The invited guests included H.E. Mrs Fatoumat Jallow Tambajang, former Vice President of the Gambia. 

One of the key highlights of the commemoration of the 2020 edition of Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day (AE&WM) was a two-day Women and Environment Forum from 1 – 2 March held in Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.  This forum is meant to strengthen the role of Women and Youth in managing natural resources. The forum organized jointly by the government Republic of Sierra Leone, AU Commission, United Nations Environment Programme and other international partners was aiming at providing space for stakeholders at national level to talk about national policies and strategies and the role of the women, Youth and local communities in ensuring environmental sustainability. During the women Forum, the African Women Inoovators of Sustainable Environment (AWISE) was presented and launched. 

The ceremony of the Official celebration held March 3rd was chaired by a representative of HE Mr. Julius Mada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. HE Amb. Josefa SACKO, Commissioner of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture has delivered a statement in which she highlighted, among other relevant things, the important roles played by Women and Youth in environment management. Other VIPs such as the Mayor of Freetown and UNEP representative made also statements during the official launching of AE&WMD 2020 edition. The event was also marked by cultural displays performances of school children and environmental groups/clubs. The Official launching was also marked by trees planting in the yard of the compound were the event took place.

Our colleague from DREA, Mr. Almami DAMPHA, Environment Officer, took part to the event by notably making presentation within the forum. The official banners of the event were produced and disseminated by Mr. Youssoupha MBENGUE, AU SAFGRAD Senior Information and Outreach Officer. 





AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, Dr. Ahmed ELMEKASS, is attending the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council officially opened today, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The meeting is being held under the AU Theme of the Year 2020, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

The initiative of Silencing the Guns is a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and aims to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide. The meeting which was attended by Foreign Ministers of AU member states, leadership of the AU Commission and AU organs, the diplomatic corps, representatives of partner organisations and invited guests was highly solemn as the key speakers in line with the Theme, delivered powerful statements to strongly condemn and denounce the devastating effect of war the continent’s socio-economic development, among others.

AU SAFGRAD Coordinator wil take opportunity of this impôrtant gathering to meet and discuss with various partners on issues of interest to the Office mandate.

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Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, Coordinator of AU SAFGRAD, presented, in his capacity as Dean, the New Year wishes of the inter-African institutions to the President of Faso.



This Friday morning January 24, the diplomatic and consular corps in Burkina Faso presented to the President of Faso, HE Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, his New Year wishes.


During the solemn ceremony held at the Kosyam Palace, the ambassadors and consular representatives, international and inter-African organizations reiterated their support for Burkina Faso and expressed wishes for a happy new year to the President of Faso and to of the Burkinabè people.


First to take the floor, Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, Coordinator of the AU SAFGRAD, in his capacity as Dean of the Inter-African Institutions, expressed in his speech the active solidarity of Africa towards the “Country of Upright Men” in these difficult moments marked by terrorist attacks.


The Dean of Inter-African Institutions will be followed by that of international institutions, Mr. David Bulman, Representative of WFP. Finally, the Dean of diplomatic and consular missions, Regina Celia de Oliveira Bittencourt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Brazil, spoke on behalf of her peer ambassadors before the President of Faso spoke to respond to all.


He notably declared that "During the year 2019, “the country of upright men” was particularly touched in its flesh by this incomprehensible and unjust violence causing enormous loss of life as well as many wounded" before soliciting, in an excellent French, the observation of a minute of silence in memory of the disappeared. He reiterated to the President of Faso, "the active solidarity of Africa, in particular through the Inter-African Organizations".


He went back on certain decisions taken by the African Union during the year 2019, notably The Decision on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was signed and ratified by Burkina Faso. He also mentioned the Decision to galvanize political commitment towards the elimination of female genital mutilation in Africa where the Heads of State decided to appoint HE Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of the Republic of Burkina Faso, as Leader of the AU for the elimination of female genital mutilation. Finally he spoke of the AU decision to appoint six (6) members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, where Burkina Faso was elected to represent the West Africa region.


Finally, coming back to the combined presidential and legislative elections that Burkina Faso is organizing at the end of this year 2020, the Coordinator of the AU SAFGRAD wished a “successful electoral process” for the “Country of Upright Men” before reiterating his best wishes for a happy new year to the President, his family and all the people of Burkina Faso.


In his response to the various speeches, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, praised the quality of the relations of friendship and cooperation between his country and friendly countries as well as with international and inter-African institutions. He also underlined the resilience of the Burkinabè people who, despite the challenges of terrorism, are fighting for sustainable and inclusive development.




Dr. Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, presenting his wishes to HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso



 HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso, responding to statements of the diplomatic and consular corps in Burkina Faso



Group picture at the end of the ceremony. HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso with representatives of Interafrican and international organizations in Burkina Faso






















AU SAFGRAD facilitated in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), from 13 to 14 November 2019, a Regional Validation Workshop (for IGAD & UMA) on : Improving competitiveness of Agricultural Commodities through Regional Value Chains development for Boosting Intra-Africa T

AU SAFGRAD facilitated in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), from 13 to 14 November 2019, a Regional Validation Workshop (for IGAD & UMA) on : Improving competitiveness of Agricultural Commodities through Regional Value Chains development for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade

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Group Picture at the Openning of the workshop

From 13 to 14 of November 2019, AU-SAFGRAD has convened a regional validation workshop for IGAD and UMA to provide actors and stakeholders the opportunity to consider and agree on selection criteria, analyze and select priority commodity value chains, based on agreed criteria, for regional endorsement.

The 2-day validation workshop was held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This meeting was facilitated by AU-SAFGRAD but ownership and advancement of outcome as a regional commitment rested with the RECs. The aim of the workshop was to validate regional selection criteria and prioritize agricultural commodities value chains for regional ownership and domestication. 

Attended by experts from RECs and their Member States. Various experts from development partners involved in agricultural trade and industrialization in the Continent/region took also part to the validation workshop.

The objectives of the workshop was specifically : (i) Collate information on Member States’ priority value chains selection criteria and commodities prioritized, (ii) Review and agree on selection criteria for prioritizing RVC against the proposed RVC; (iii) Validate the prioritized RVC for regional ownership and domestication and finally (iv) Initiate process to agree on the modalities for constituting regional and Continental commodity committees. 

After two days deliberations, the meeting was concluded with the following outcomes: (i)Information on status and criteria use in the selection of MS prioritized value chain for the region was documented; (ii) criteria for prioritizing RVC agreed and endorsed by IGAD and UMA; (iii) Regional priority commodities documented and (iv) Strategic approach in constituting commodities committees agreed.


AU Guidelines for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa validated in Lusaka, Zambia

AU Guidelines for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa validated in Lusaka, Zambia.

The African Union Guidelines for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa were discussed and finalized during a three day workshop, from November 5-7, 2019, held at COMESA Headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia.

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 Group Picture at the opening ceremony of workshop on Pastoralism held in Lusaka, Zambia.

Facilitated by AU SAFGRAD and AU Rural Economy Division of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture in collaboration with COMESA Secretariat, the meeting gathered various experts and practitioners from the five regional farmers associations as well pastoralists networks, Department of Peace and Security and The Women Gender Development Directorate of the African Union Commission, ,Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Key international and financial institutions such as African Development Bank (AfDB) also attended the Workshop.

It is important to recall that Pastoralists’ livestock production is the primary production system in Africa’s drylands. It is the main source of livelihood, food security, and wellbeing in 43 percent of Africa’s landmass. Besides, pastoralism plays an essential role in the national and regional economies of Africa. It supplies millions of animals to both domestic and international markets through secure livestock trade networks that link-local and cross-border markets to neighboring countries and global markets. It is estimated that the arid and semiarid areas of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) is home to over 25 million pastoralists of which 72% of which resides with in COMESA region.


Unfortunately, in recent decades, pastoralism is facing ever-increasing challenges in the forms of increasingly variable and unpredictable climate, rising insecurity and violence, increasing risk of animal and zoonotic diseases, and insecure land rights and natural resources management. These changes are taking place in a context of neglect and exclusion. These challenges are eroding the capacity of pastoralists systems in the different regions of the drylands to absorb shocks and adapt to changes.


In addition, owing to a multiplicity of factors including resource scarcity, adverse effects of climate change etc., violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have intensified resulting in the loss of lives, destruction of properties, and displacement of people and retardation of socio-economic progress. It is estimated that today those conflicts on the continent take more lives than terrorism.

To address these challenges, the Executive Council of the African Union in January 2011 approved The AU Policy Framework on Pastoralism aiming at securing, protecting and improving the lives, livelihoods, and rights of pastoralists’ communities. This calls for the initiation of the process of developing guidelines with the general objective to contribute to releasing the potential of pastoralists’ ecosystems to boost economic prosperity and enhance peace and security in Africa. Specific objectives include to avail to AU Member States guidelines and instrument to secure pastoralists activities, enhance the rights of pastoralists and help to prevent and resolve conflicts associated with pastoralists’ activities. 


Talking at the opening ceremony on the behalf of HE Josefa Sacko, Commissioner of Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), Dr Janet Edeme, REA Head Division, mentioned that the workshop has preceded another important workshop that took place over the last two days reviewing the African Union Draft Land Governance Strategy. These two workshops have been designed back to back to look at the correlation between pastoralism and land- two critical sectors which the African Union Commission places significant importance on. “These two workshops are being organized within the broader context of preparations for next year’s theme of the African Union on silencing the Guns in Africa and the overall vision of a Peaceful, Prosperous and Integrated Africa”, She said before concluding that “Conducting this research is very important as it will contribute to the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063 and of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well.” 

In his opening remarks, Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, explained that “AU-DREA has developed a Policy Framework on Pastoralism; and some of the RECs equally have similar work. In addition, in 2018 AU-SAFGRAD as lead institution in collaboration with the Division of Rural Economy and the Department of Peace and Security of the African Union has organized a workshop titled “Transhumance conflict in Africa towards a formidable continental conflict transformation mechanism”. The current study is one of the main outcomes of this workshop, he concluded. 


On behalf of the COMESA Secretariat, Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA Secretariat stated during his address at the opening that the current study is well suited to COMESA mandate and therefore will require great attention”. Delivering the opening statement, on the behalf of the Hosting country, Dr Young Ndoba Vibetti, from Zambia Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, confirmed that “the Republic of Zambia stands ready to work in partnership with AUC, RECs including COMESA and other Member States to fully implement the Guidelines”.


The first version of the Guidelines has been developed using an approach aiming to respond to the desire to stimulate inclusive debate and to build a consensus on the document. With this successful meeting, the validated version of the document would be submitted through appropriate AU Policy organs for consideration and adoption.






Media contacts: Mr Youssoupha MBENGUE, Senior Communications Officer, AU SAFGRAD. Email: Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser. .




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