Sadc PF meets  over food security

Moses Magadza in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

The SADC PF Standing Committee on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) opened its meeting here yesterday, in preparation for the 55th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF that will take place in Angola from July 1 to 7.

The meeting underway here, which is running under the theme: “Promoting climate action in Parliaments to strengthen food security and sustainable agriculture; Enhance SRHR outcomes; and govern natural resources effectively”, ends tomorrow.

Malawi Member of Parliament, Mr Ishmael Ndaila Onani is Chairperson of the FANR Standing Committee.

FANR programme manager Ms Rachel Mundilo said: “The committee encourages the implementation of programmes aimed at enhancing food security through disaster preparedness, access, safety, and nutritional value, fair and sustainable use of natural resources, and the development of institutional frameworks.”

The meeting is taking place when the SADC region is facing multifaceted challenges due to climate change, including disruptions to food systems, threats to agriculture and natural resources, and impacts on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The challenges necessitate a comprehensive approach to building resilience that integrates various sectors. This meeting brings together parliamentarians, experts, and stakeholders to discuss strategies for mitigating the impacts of climate change and advancing sustainable development.

It is focusing on three thematic areas: Food security and sustainable agriculture, SRHR and natural resource governance.

Climate change has a profound impact on agricultural productivity, water availability, and food security through irregular rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, and rising temperatures, hence the region faces chronic food shortages due to climate change, inadequate infrastructure, and limited resources for smallholder farmers.

Climate change has a range of impacts that can exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, particularly affecting SRHR for women and marginalised groups. For example, extreme weather events and food insecurities can lead to increased risks of violence against women, higher maternal mortality rates, and reduced access to SRHR services. SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma says the energy transition in Southern Africa is vital for enhancing energy security, fostering economic development, combating climate change, and achieving sustainable development. The shift from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is now more relevant due to pressing global challenges and opportunities. The region’s abundant critical minerals are essential for clean energy technologies and there is a pressing need to determine how parliaments can support sustainable exploitation of these resources for the benefit of their constituents.

One of the resource persons for this meeting is Ms Chikondi Chabvuta, the Regional Advocacy Advisor for Southern Africa with CARE International.

She said the meeting was timely and necessary given that the SADC region was facing impacts of climate change with at least three countries declaring drought.

“The interconnected nature of climate action, food security, sustainable agriculture, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and natural resource governance cannot be over-emphasised as these issues are not siloed; they are deeply intertwined and addressing one can have positive ripple effects on the others,” she said.

She believes that promoting sustainable agriculture practices can mitigate climate change impacts, improve food security, and enhance SRHR outcomes by empowering communities, particularly women, to make informed choices about their reproductive health.

Added Ms Chabvuta: “The (SADC) region is among the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. “We have over 40 million people reported as food insecure, with women and girls being the most vulnerable to climate impacts in the region.

“The entire region is at risk of climate change, but due to unique vulnerabilities and different exposures to climate change, Mozambique experiences frequent tropical cyclones and flooding, Zimbabwe deals with both droughts and floods, Malawi faces food insecurity due to erratic rainfall patterns, Namibia and Botswana grapple with droughts and water scarcity, Madagascar contends with cyclones and other natural disasters. South Africa, Zambia, and Eswatini also face climate-related challenges.”

In this regard, Ms Chabvuta said SADC MPs had their work cut out and could intensify their oversight on food security and SRHR, ensure related budget allocations are made and share knowledge with their constituents on climate change and its impacts.

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