By Melvin Tejan Mansaray, Abuja Nigeria
The President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has shed light on the interventions of the Commission on issues of women’s empowerment and food security among other things that are affecting the prosperity and development of sub-region.
The President’s accentuation on the issues was prompted bywide-ranging concerns by Members of the ECOWAS Parliament on the impact of these issues on the peoples of the sub-region.
President Brou’s comments came following his presentation at the ECOWAS Parliament’s Second Ordinary Session of the 5th Legislatures ‘2021 Report on the State of the Community,’ on Wednesday 1st December 2021, in Abuja, Nigeria.
Dr. Brou’s twenty-two pages report contained an introduction or context, the COVID-19 pandemic, security, and political development,economic outlook, key programs of the Commission, other institutions’ programs, and a conclusion, all of which provoked a torrent ofconcerns, questions, and comments from some fifteen lawmakers that took the Floor from across the sub-region.
In response to the MPs reaction to the report he presented, Dr. Brou began by clarifying that contrary to submissions of some of the Lawmakers that his report was not comprehensive, there is a detailed report but since they were asked to be briefed, that is why the Commission presented a summary report.
On the issue of women’s empowerment, President Brou said in 2020 they noticed well over six hundred maternal mortality due to related difficulties, adding that “ so we had to support seven countries on family planning.”
” We made financial contributions to bolster girl child enrollment. We supported the construction of health centers in several countries in addition to what we are doing in the Gender Center in Dakar concerning the fistula project as well as socio-economic activities, so we are going to develop our intervention in that sector because like we said,it is all about continuity so we will ramp up our support to women and girls in every aspect of gender consideration,” Dr. Brou said.
Reacting to another concern around food insecurity in the sub-region, the President of the ECWOAS Commission, Dr. Brou said the Commission the response is that food security is closely intertwined with deteriorating physical security on the people, adding that “ ofcourse you cannot rule out banditry in several countries as well as the impact of climate change which has adversely impacted agricultural production.”
Dr. Brou further explained that: “This year we saw that the climate situation was unfavorable which translates into difficulty in agricultural production. The ECOWAS is doing three things: first, we have our security buffer stock that was deployed. Several countries requested that we provide food and grain support from the various stocks that we have in various countries. Whenever there is aninternal need in a country, we immediately offer assistance to that country, and then we restock, and currently, we are increasing the capacity as we have noticed an increase in the number of requests for ECOWAS reserves. This is the immediate response in case of emergencies in certain countries; as soon as we are contacted we respond and this will continue.”
On the second approach to food stability and sufficiency, President Brou said there is a midterm response of each member state to increase production adding that “ of course we need to address insecurity because there is no way peasant farmers will go to their farms to grow crops, so we need to ensure that there is improved security; beyond the security situation, we also have the issues of thecapacity deployed to support production.”
He said the ECOWAS is having the general idea of helping to boost production, agricultural processes, and food crops, in particular, one of the projects which they are placing a premium in every ECOWAS the Member States.
“The third factor which has negatively impacted on food crops and production is climate change – beyond insecurity, shortage ofrainfall or inadequate rainfall is a problem and to address this we have come up with resilience programs against climate change and we are trying to implement in several countries,” President Brou noted are some of the responses that the ECOWAS Commission has been offering in the short and medium-term to boost agricultural production in various countries in the sub-region.
The issue of the ECOWAS vision 2050 witnessed some amount of reluctance on the side of MPs to deliberate, although but a few contributed to its debate, the documents were committed to a special committee to look into and revert accordingly. Dr. Brou said, “yes there was a vision 2020 before the vision 2050 which was done by a a consultant who evaluated it against vision 2020’s lessons learned. It was on the strength of vision 2020 that vision 2050 was developed and the idea was that we should learn from the past as to what to do for the future,” the ECOWAS Commission President said.