The Aegis Trust’s Chief Executive Dr James Smith and Executive Director Freddy Mutanguha were among the delegates taking part in this year’s Hunger Summit and World Food Prize symposium in Iowa.
Bringing together over 1200 scientific experts, policy leaders and food industry executives from more than 65 countries, the symposium is organised by the World Food Prize and named the ‘Borlaug Dialogue’ in honour of Norman Borlaug.
Borlaug’s revolutionary impact on global wheat production is credited with saving the lives of a billion people from starvation. In 1970 he became the only agricultural scientist ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize: a powerful recognition of the link between food security and conflict prevention.
The theme for the 2019 Borlaug Dialogue was “Pax Agricultura: Peace Through Agriculture.” Aegis’ CEO was among the opening plenary panellists, who gave examples of how agricultural projects brought communities together after genocide in Rwanda, helping to build trust and reconciliation. Lessons from Rwanda are being applied now in countries at risk of violence.
A notable example is in the Central African Republic (CAR) where investing in sustainable livelihoods, especially through innovative agriculture, is contributing to resilience in communities experiencing conflict. This has been reinforced by trauma healing and peace education, both of which foster psychological resilience. There is evidence that the three strands work synergistically to impede escalation of violence.
These elements are drawn together in the work of the Central African Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership (CIPP). Formed in 2016 it comprises Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief Worldwide, World Vision, the Aegis Trust and CAR’s Inter-Religious Platform.
“The partnership’s contribution to peace in CAR shows what’s possible when agricultural, economic and psychological resilience are all being strengthened at the same time,” says Dr James Smith. “With climate change now threatening food security for hundreds of millions of people, there are lessons here for global application. Without the psychological resilience which peacebuilding provides, the risks of increased conflict, extremism and mass migration are far higher when crops fail.”