The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.

Completion report AUC AFSI

Recognizing the importance of addressing the challenges of unsafe food, the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the Technical Center for Rural Development Agriculture (CTA) launched a project titled “Building Capacity for Institutionalizing Food Safety Tracking in the African Union Member States” in December 2018. In line with its objective, the project successfully developed the Africa Food Safety Index (AFSI) in consultation with food safety experts from relevant institutions within and outside Africa. AFSI is a composite index that attempts to capture the multi-sectoral nature and impacts of food safety through a simple set of indicators of food safety policy, health, and trade. AFSI was endorsed by technical experts and member state officials to be integrated in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) biennial reporting (BR) mechanism, which presents performance of countries in meeting targets of the Malabo Declaration for Agricultural Transformation.
Led by the AUC and with the active engagement of technical partners such as the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), AFSI undergone a round of technical reviews and political consultation processes that involved Regional Economic Communities (RECs), member states and other partners. The project sensitized policy makers on the challenges of unsafe food, its linkage to the economy and the health sector, as well as the use of evidence for decision making. In addition to project specific events, PACA used its participation in different policy relevant forums to consult policy makers and advocate for tracking food safety indicators through the BR mechanism for. These consultative actions enhanced awareness of policy makers about the importance of food safety and generated ownership for reporting on AFSI. These consultations were also instrumental in facilitating the exchange of information to strengthen food safety governance in Africa and gather stakeholder feedbacks on value addition of continental approaches for tracking food safety indicators.
Following training of trainers (TOT), the project conducted a series of capacity building events which trained 340 food safety experts, CAADP focal points and CODEX focal points with focus on the content and structure of AFSI, data requirements, computing methods, and reporting mechanisms. Using the network developed through the capacity building events, the project established the African Food Safety Experts Network (FSEN) and availed a pool of experts who supported national level AFSI data collection. These capacity building and networking efforts ensured high level commitment for AFSI data collection, as evidenced in the tremendous response rate during the 2019 BR reporting. Surpassing its initial target of 20 countries, the project registered reporting of AFSI by 50 countries on the first ever successful collection of country-specific data on food safety indicators at continental level in Africa. After verified by national and regional (REC) level officials, AFSI data was endorsed by the AU ministerial conference to be included in the 2nd Biennial Review (BR). In February 2020, the BR report was reviewed and approved by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the highest decision-making organ of the continent. This great achievement marks the beginning of sustainable tracking of food safety data, which contributes to enhance prioritization and improvement of food safety governance in Africa.
Considering that AFSI is a new indicator in the BR process, AUC-PACA and ILRI- Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) launched a three-pronged validation study to test the credibility, relevance and usability of the AFSI. By analysing the 2019 data submitted by countries, conducting an online survey and in-country validations missions in nine sample countries, the study assessed availability, accessibility and quality of data as well as the meaning of the 2019 data, and identified challenges that countries encountered during data collection and reporting. The validation study offered an opportunity to assess the degree to which AFSI data much up with the food safety realities in the countries, and provided concrete recommendations that will enhance countries engagement in collecting AFSI data for future BR reporting.
Parallel to the process for institutionalization of AFSI in the BR mechanism, development of a digital platform was advanced by AFRICOM Technologies with PACA’s continuous support and supervision. Following the approval of the system design document and completion of the data entry and visualization modules, the digital platform was tested and successfully hosted on AUC server. Training was given to system administrators and end-users to ensure maintenance and effective use of the digital platform beyond the project lifetime. The AFSI digital platform is expected to facilitate ease of data entry and analysis using a structured architecture of information flow. Additional consultancy support was provided to AUC/PACA related to M&E and IT.
In conclusion the project succeeded its main goal of institutionalising the tracking of food safety indicators as part of the CAADP BR mechanism and enabled the first ever successful collection of food safety data at continental level. By doing so, the project adequately responded its share to the need for evidence that is crucial for prioritization of food safety in Africa, where the challenge is significant and urgent actions are required. In view of the start of the trade under the common market of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2020, institutionalization of AFSI could serve as objective mechanism to track progress and provide the initial trigger to encourage countries to adopt evidence-based, modern food safety systems that meet international standards. Moreover, the information generated by AFSI can be used as a basseline data for food safety modernization endeavour of the upcoming African Food Safety Agency (AFSA), which can also expand the digital platform as a central data hub to support risk assessment for effective food safety management in the continent.
The remaining sections provide information on main activities and results in the five project components for the whole project period. The report also summarises communication/visibility activities, constraints encountered, remedial measures taken, lessons learned and sustainability measures.