The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have reaffirmed their commitment towards strengthening proactive and functional early warning systems to improve food and nutrition security and, ultimately, end hunger in the Region.
The commitment was expressed during a virtual courtesy call by the new WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa, Dr Manghestab Haile, to the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 23rd July 2021 where the two parties acknowledged that early warning is an effective tool to reduce vulnerabilities and improve preparedness and response to natural hazards that have continued to cause destruction to property and led to the loss of life in the SADC Region.
Dr Tax said since most of the SADC citizens depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. An effective early warning system is critical as it empowers people, especially farmers, to take appropriate action before the disaster occurs and helps partners to mobilise resources to mitigate the impacts of disasters.
The Executive Secretary highlighted that without food security, the SADC Region cannot achieve its aspiration of a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice and freedom as envisioned in the SADC Vision 2050. To achieve this aspiration, Dr Tax said SADC needs the support of partners towards the implementation of activities and development priorities outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and other instruments.
Dr Haile disclosed that the WFP plans to support the work of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) based in Nacala, Mozambique, which is part of the regional efforts to assist in the coordination of support to disaster preparedness, response and recovery in the SADC Member States. The Centre was jointly launched on 21 June 2021 by H.E. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique and Chairperson of SADC, and H.E. Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana and Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
Dr Haile said WFP will also continue to work with SADC to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, by focusing on SDG 2 which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture and SDG 17 which seeks to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.
Apart from the establishment of SHOC, SADC is in the process of operationalizing other strategies and instruments, including the SADC Regional Development Fund; the Disaster Fund; and the Regional Resilient Framework 2020-2030 and the early warning systems for food and nutrition security to mitigate the impacts of disasters in the Region.
The SADC Secretariat and WFP signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2019, to provide for effective collaboration on food and nutritional security in the region. Among other ongoing joint activities, the two parties are collaborating on the implementation of the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme to provide timely credible information on vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity at the same time strengthening capacities to meet the ever-increasing information needs of governments and partners for developmental programming and emergency response. Under the RVAA programme, SADC and WFP, with support from other partners, recently launched a new Online Atlas on Vulnerability to Food and Nutrition Insecurity designed to store and share data relating to food, nutrition and livelihoods security from the SADC Member States.