SADC holds extraordinary summit. . .Bloc to launch humanitarian appeal SADC Executive Secretary Mr Elias Magosi

Wallace Ruzvidzo Herald Reporter

HEADS of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community will today convene a virtual Extraordinary Summit to launch the regional bloc’s humanitarian appeal.

The launch follows poor harvests across SADC, caused by low rainfall due to the El Niño phenomenon.

A SADC Council of Ministers’ meeting was held yesterday ahead of today’s meeting of Heads of State and Government.

Speaking during the SADC Council of Ministers’ meeting, also held virtually, SADC Executive Secretary Mr Elias Magosi said the food appeal was meant to attract the attention of the international community to the region’s urgent need for support.

“This appeal was developed following a recommendation from the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment Programme steering committee, which met last month to assess the disasters in the region during the 2023-24 season,” he  said.

Mr Magosi added: “The request for food support  has benefited from various contributions, including the joint meeting of ministers and SADC’s cooperating partners, notably the United Nations World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, or FAO, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The appeal is expected to be launched tomorrow (today) during the extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government, primarily to draw attention of the international community to the urgent need for support to the SADC member states affected by the El Nino phenomenon. The appeal is also informed by disaster declarations and subsequent appeals from the affected member states.”

He said indications were that more countries would declare a state of national disaster as the poor harvests were widespread. So far Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, in the worst affected central belt of SADC, have already declared the drought a state of disaster.

“It is, therefore, a consolidation and a regional response to complement ongoing national appeals and efforts. It is, therefore, anticipated that more member states are likely to do so as they finalise their in-depth assessments in the next few weeks.

“Let me conclude by expressing gratitude to our cooperating partners, the WFP, FAO and OCHA, among others, for the strong partnership, dependability and the continued support in the vulnerability assessments and the development of the regional humanitarian appeal.

“I appeal to all other cooperating partners, the international community and the private sector, to also be empathetic and mobilise resources to assist the affected member states,” he said.

The El Niño-induced drought has affected crops and livestock, leading to the disruption of lives and livelihoods for an estimated 58 million people in the region.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava, said Zimbabwe had taken a holistic approach to addressing the effects of drought.

“Village-based registers will be used to target people in need of food assistance. The Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Report has activated the disaster response apparatus, comprising the Civil Protection Department and relevant national and sub-national institutions.

“It is our hope that through the SADC Humanitarian Appeal, the regional and international community will partner with Zimbabwe and SADC as a whole, to complement national response efforts.

“The number of people in rural areas that will require assistance is 6 million of the 9,2 million. In urban areas, 1,7 million will require assistance. Cumulatively, 7,7 million people or just over 51 percent of the population,” he said.

Ambassador Shava said while the Humanitarian Appeal was important, there was also a need for SADC countries to ramp up efforts to ensure increased production and productivity, with the ultimate effect of reducing over-reliance on external suppliers.

SADC should tap into the various international funding mechanisms at its disposal, particularly within the United Nations system, and other intergovernmental organisations, to which SADC belongs.

“We are witnessing first hand, through this drought, the devastating impact of climate change in our region. We must, therefore, take advantage of the funding mechanisms within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to finance our climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, as we seek to protect ourselves and future generations from the dire impact of climate change,” Ambassador Shava said.

He said it was important that developing countries intensified their call for developed countries to play their part in the mitigation of climate change effects.

“As we are all aware, developing countries continue to bear the brunt of the negative effects of climate change, though we have contributed the least to the current global climate crisis.

“Let us continue to amplify the call for developed countries to do their part in climate action, and honour their climate financing commitments, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” Ambassador Shava said.

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