Zimbabwe Farmers' Union

SADC unites against EL Nino

29 Feb 2016

Southern Africa Development Community member states put their heads together in a consultative meeting held last week to discuss readiness  and possible solutions to the challenges brought about by the EL Nino.

Senior officials from thirteen SADC member states namely Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food programme (WFP), converged in South Africa for this significant meeting.

The two day meeting which started on the 26th of February 2016  saw fundamental discussions on the preparedness and response to the impact of the 2015/16 EL Nino on Agriculture and food and Nutrition Security in the region.

 “The overall objective of the meeting was to create a common understanding of the effects of the current El Niño event from a regional and country perspective and agree on essential actions and commitments”.

The 2015/16 EL Nino was noted to be one of the driest rainfall season in over thirty fife years in the region and this will result in low agriculture produce leading to declines in food production and regional cereal supplies.

Prices of maize and other cereals, livestock and livestock products as well as other food products are expected to increase.

Approximately seventy percent of the region’s population depend on agriculture thus increased hunger and malnutrition is anticipated and also the number of individuals vulnerable to food insecurity, particularly women, children and HIV affected people is expected to increase.

“The meeting noted that SADC Member States, Cooperating Partners and the SADC Secretariat are undertaking a number of regional initiatives in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response.

 However, the magnitude of this disaster requires additional measures to reduce the impact of El Niño on lives and livelihoods of affected population and ensure that development gains registered in the past are not reversed.

This may scuttle the global Sustainable Development Agenda”.

 El Niño/La Niña phenomenon will continue to recur hence the need to plan for future occurrences.

“It was agreed on the immediate implementation of the following short, medium and long-term measures in a collective and coordinated manner to minimize the impacts on the communities,”

In Short–Term:

    • Member States to provide preliminary data on the number of people affected cereal and other food deficits for planning and resource mobilization.
    • Members States with the support of cooperating partners to provide immediate relief to meet the food and non-food needs of more than 28 million vulnerable population who were affected by the previous poor season. The numbers are likely to increase in view of the current El Niño.
    • Member States to scale-up on-going social protection/safety nets and to provide capacity needs for support by international cooperating partners.
    • Member States and partners to increase budgetary allocation for disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response.
    • Member States and partners to maintain accessible, affordable and quality basic social services for the most vulnerable.
    • Member States and partners to support male and female small-holder farmers to produce in the next production season.
    • Member States and partners to provide targeted support to the vulnerable people to assist in recovery and build resilience.
    • Member States and partners to establish logistics/transport task team to evaluate the available logistics capacity, procurement options, bottlenecks to free flow of food, coordinate and facilitate food commodity importation.
    • Member States and partners to ensure swift imports of food and essential non-food items into the region.
    • Member States and partners to establish El Niño specific coordination centre at the SADC Secretariat for this crisis.

Medium/Long-term                                               

    • Member States and partners to develop a regional resilience and M&E frameworks.
    • Member States and partners to promote and scale-up appropriate technologies to adapt and mitigate against climate variability and change.
    • Member States and partners to scale-up provision of primary health care services, including nutrition, HIV treatment, water and sanitation in line with approved regional strategies.
    • Member States and partners to scale-up implementation and strengthen disaster risk reduction strategies for preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.
    • Member States and partners to implement regional agricultural policies that promote production, productivity, competitiveness and improve access to markets and promote private sector participation.
    • Member States and partners to use risk financing instruments to manage disasters.