FAO releases US$10m to support vulnerable people in SADC region

Elita Chikwati

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation has released US$10 million to support the most vulnerable people in the SADC region through anticipatory action and response.

The SADC region faces a humanitarian crisis because of the ongoing El Niño induced drought and floods that are negatively impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the region.

According to the SADC El Nino Appeal, an estimated 60 million people in Southern Africa are food insecure.

FAO appealed for additional support from the international community to meet the urgent humanitarian needs in the affected Member States and communities.

In a statement, FAO said the organisation developed a US$ 360 million El Nino Regional Response and Preparedness Plan (ERRP) to assist 13 million people in Southern Africa mostly affected by the El Nino droughts and floods.

FAO Sub Regional Co-ordinator for Southern Africa, Mr Patrice Talla, said the actual needs in the Member States far exceed this.

“The FAO ERRP takes cognisance of the potential for early small-holder farmer recovery through the harnessing of off-season food production avenues as well as harnessing the opportunities for better crop performance through the forecasted La Niña,” said Mr Talla.

FAO plays a critical role in mitigating the impacts of El Niño induced droughts

To mitigate the impacts of the drought on agriculture and food security, FAO (through SFERA and CERF funding) disbursed US$ 5,7 million to implement anticipatory actions in four drought-affected countries (Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe), including anticipatory cash and vouchers and distribution of drought tolerant inputs.

To help SADC Member states assess changes in the food and nutrition security situation due to El Niño, FAO disbursed US$ 0.5 million to eight countries (Angola, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) to ascertain the impact of the drought on agriculture, food security, and livelihoods.

FAO said the Food Security Impact Assessments were ongoing and would inform response and resilience planning by governments and other humanitarian partners.

To support early recovery for agriculture in Malawi and Zambia, FAO mobilised almost US$6 million.

 FAO said it was actively engaging with donors to mobilise resources for the phased response focused on livelihoods and agricultural production restoration through early recovery and building the resilience of affected communities to future shocks.

FAO said it would also continue collaborating with other humanitarian organisations to reduce food insecurity, and assist affected countries in assessing drought impacts and formulating technically sound response strategies. The organisation is also promoting innovative technologies that enhance risk monitoring capacities and facilitate timely context-specific response interventions.

FAO Resilience Team Leader for Southern Africa, Mr Lewis Hove, said the organisation was helping people build resilience gains’ future shocks.

 “FAO’s commitment to a holistic response ensures communities receive life-saving aid and build resilience against future shocks,” he said.

According to FAO, as El Niño’s grip loosens and La Niña looms, the region should brace for the transition, preparing for the diverse challenges each phenomenon presents.

“La Niña’s impending arrival heralds heavy rainfall and flooding. Preparation is key; coherent adaptive strategies must be enacted to prevent crop damage and displacement,” said FAO.

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