SADC Member States urged to address food insecurity through intra-regional trade

SANF 22 no 11 – by Clarkson Mambo

SADC Member States have been urged to address food and nutrition insecurity in the region through intra-regional trade, and to prepare contingency plans showing areas of surplus and shortages, after an uneven season of generally low rainfall.
This is the recommendation of the SADC Council of Ministers who met on 18-19 March in Lilongwe, Malawi to review the implementation of programmes aimed at promoting and deepening regional integration, cooperation and economic development.
“In relation to food and nutrition security, Council noted that most Member States received low rainfall that will affect crop production in the region, and urged Member States to prepare contingency plans, taking into account areas with surplus and shortages of food production and through intra-regional trade, to deal with potential food shortages, and be able to assist food and nutrition insecure people,” reads part of the communiqué released soon after the SADC Council.
According to the 2021 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa, the region has a cereal deficit following a subdued farming season.

The report indicates that an estimated 47.6 million people in the region are food insecure, a 5.5 percent increase from the previous year.
In this regard the establishment and operationalization of the SADC Humanitarian Operations Centre (SHOC) is timely and critical as it can assist in addressing and coordinating regional humanitarian efforts for food shortages and natural disasters which are increasing and affecting all Member States.
The SADC Council approved a budget of US$1.3 million to operationalize the SHOC for three years until 2025.

Based in the Nampula province of Mozambique, the SHOC will coordinate regional humanitarian efforts on disaster risks preparedness, response and early recovery.
“Council noted the increased frequency, magnitude and impact of cyclones, droughts, floods and disasters that have affected the region and expressed condolences and solidarity with the region’s Governments and people that have lost lives and important social and economic infra-structures, due to these disasters, and urged Member States to prepare contingency plans for floods and/or droughts that may affect the Region; and to promote planting of trees to enhance carbon sequestration and facilitate the adoption of the green economy to reduce the region’s contribution to greenhouse gases that cause climate change.”

In dealing with disasters, the SHOC will be complemented by other regional initiatives and institutions that SADC has put in place, including the Online Vulnerability Atlas and the Climate Data Processing Centre.
The Online Atlas was developed by the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme to store and share data on food, nutrition and livelihoods security from the 16 SADC Member States.
The Climate Data Processing Centre provides timely early warning information such as prediction of flood and drought potential, and onset of the rainy season, as well as climate advisories and information.

In the past decades, SADC has experienced an increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters such as droughts, floods and cyclones, resulting in the loss of lives and livelihoods, as well as destruction of infrastructure such as roads.
For example, in 2022, SADC has already experienced a number of tropical cyclones and storms such as Ana, Batsirai, Dumako, Emnati and Gombe which have killed and injured hundreds of people as well as destroying infrastructure in countries such as Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius and Mozambique, Zambia as well as the eastern parts of Zimbabwe.
The SHOC will also facilitate supply chain management of equipment and supplies that will be required during the deployment of humanitarian support to Member States.

As per SADC legal procedures, the documents have been approved by the SADC Committee of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General, and following approval by Council, are expected to be presented for final approval to the 42nd SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for the Democratic of Congo in August.

In her address to Council, Honourable Nancy Gladys Tembo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers highlighted the need for SADC Member States to sign and ratify key trade and industry legal and policy instruments to facilitate advancing of the regional integration and industrialisation agenda.
Council approved the Annual Corporate Plan and Budget for the 2022/2023 Financial Year and commended Member States for the commitment and resilience demonstrated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and endorsed the decisions and recommendations of the Ministers of Health, which include continuing to convene Regional Technical Meetings in virtual format with strict adherence to COVID-19 Guidelines, and advocating for voluntary technology sharing on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing.

The SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Mr. Elias M Magosi expressed his gratitude to SADC Member States for the support and commitment to the SADC regional programmes and continued collaboration with the Secretariat in the implementation of priority areas outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and Vision 2050.

Council approved and recommended to SADC Summit for consideration the Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty to recognise a SADC Parliament as one of the SADC Institutions under Article 9 (1) of the SADC Treaty as part of the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament.

The meeting was attended by Ministers constituting the Council of Ministers, who are usually Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Economic Planning, or Finance, supported by the SADC Executive Secretary and Senior Officials.
The Council of Ministers meets twice a year in February/March and immediately prior to the Summit in August to oversee the functioning and development of SADC and ensure that policies and decisions are implemented.

42nd SADC Summit Publication 2022, click here