West and Central Africa have experienced above average economic and agricultural growth in recent years. However, the absolute number of poor and hungry people has risen while most countries, and especially in the Sahel, remain vulnerable to shocks which exacerbate malnutrition and poverty.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is working to ensure that the recent growth is sustained and inclusive of the poor and vulnerable.
IFPRI has a long history of strong engagement in Africa and today it invests about 50 percent of its programmatic budget in work on Africa. To better meet research needs and achieve greater impact on the ground, IFPRI launched country project offices and regional offices for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESAO) and West and Central Africa (WCAO).
The WCAO, headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, helps to strengthen IFPRI’s position as a major contributor to food policy research, capacity strengthening and policy dialogue within West and Central Africa. The Office supports countries with the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and actively works with the African Union Commission, regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and individual countries to provide evidence-based agricultural policy solutions.
The WCAO is engaged in various research initiatives including the following:
Technical Support to the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS)
The WCAO is conducting research to inform the implementation of ECOWAS’ Regional Agricultural Policy—ECOWAP. Research has been centered on five strategic policy areas: i) simulating the economy-wide impacts of ECOWAS’ policy on increasing rice production and achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2025 using a computable general equilibrium model developed for ECOWAS, called ECOSIM; ii) analyzing the economic impacts of implementing the ECOWAS common external tariff, iii) examining the economic impacts of removing non-tariff barriers to cross border trade, iv) analyzing best practices for implementing ECOWAS’ Food Reserve Policy; and v) and piloting the first ever a regional agriculture joint sector review to foster mutual accountability at the regional level.
IFPRI’s analysis has helped to inform work of the ECOWAS Rice Task Force and the formulation of ECOWAS’ rice program for guiding implementation of its regional rice policy as part of the implementation of ECOWAP.
Setting Up Country Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support Systems (SAKSS)
Working closely with the Regional Strategic and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) and IFPRI’s East and Southern Africa Office (ESAO), the Office is establishing country level SAKSS platforms in 12 countries. SAKSS platforms are now operational in Ghana, DRC, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Togo and will soon be operation in more countries. They are providing policy-relevant analyses, data, and tools to improve policymaking, fill knowledge gaps, promote dialogue, and facilitate review processes associated with the CAADP implementation agenda
Establishing the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium
In collaboration with the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division, the WCAO is operationalizing the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium, launched in 2011. AGRODEP seeks to enable African experts to take a leading role in the study of strategic development issues facing Africa. It does so by providing its more than 140 African members with free access to cutting-edge economic modeling and research tools, data, mentoring, and training as well as opportunities to apply for competitive research grants.
The WCAO covers the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Sao Tome, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Togo.