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SARM food security meeting
March 2006
David Mwaniki
ActionAid

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges permission from David Mwaniki for permission to post this report.


Executive Summary

This meeting was convened by the SARM group as part of the continuous regional management of the response. the five key objectives of the meeting;

  1. Opportunity to strengthen joint planning on Food Security issues within the sub-region and get inputs from regional/international policy, communications, partnership development functions and external institution perspectives.
  2. Opportunity to strengthen linkages with the International Food Security Network activities.
  3. Reaffirm policy priorities on food security for the sub-region for 2006 and explore opportunities for partnerships with sub-regional/regional institutions.
  4. To take stock of on-going food crisis emergency response activities and update on the contextual changes.
  5. Networking, learning and sharing knowledge and experiences within the SARM, wider AAI team and other key actors.
Current Situation

  • 12 Million people are facing food insecurity in southern Africa in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland.
  • This Food Insecurity situation is chronic and there is increased vulnerability at household and community level.
  • There is a marked reduction in government ability to pride basic services.
  • Therefore it is no longer a case of disaster shocks but a humanitarian crisis caused by multiple layers of stressors and hazards (concentrated hazards). The crisis is not transitory.
The meeting brought together country teams from the sub region who shared their current interventions, proposed actions at policy and practice level. Partners and key stake holders including NEPAD, FAO, MUNAC, ISS and the IFSN, Swaziland Food Security Network were represented and they shared their current priorities and actions.

As part of the way forward there was a synthesis of country plans to highlight the new strategic direction and regional priorities in deepening and strengthening the response in the region. The strategic direction can be summarised as follows.

  • Advocate and campaign for farmers’ rights to land, water and seeds,
  • Support local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods,
  • Build and support civil society networks to secure the right to food,
  • Promote constitutional change and/or legal actions to secure the right to food,
  • Promote change on trade rules,
  • Advocate for food security for people and food sovereignty for nations,
  • Corporate control,
  • Mitigating of negative impact of climate change.
The leadership responsibility at country level for each identified priority was also secured;

  • Strategic Grain Reserves management - Malawi
  • Food Aid/Dumping - Malawi
  • GMOs, Biotechnology Policies - Mozambique
  • Targeted Safety Nets for Vulnerable groups, HIV/AIDS related Food Insecurity – Zimbabwe
  • Sub-regional level long-term response interventions – SARM

    • State governance and accountability – links to NEPAP and APRM
    • Role of South Africa, private sector – policies propagated
    • Role of international actors (donors)
Engagement with people’s movement and opportunities for collaborative interventions with other stakeholders also emerged as a key issue to be addressed in future responses. The country plans articulated this approach and identified these stakeholders in their deliberations.

The need to have a sub-regional early warning system to guide timely actions at country and regional level was linked to fundraising and IPD support.

Documentation of best practice for shared learning and advocacy purposes was deliberated as another component that would also strengthen delivery of the communications strategic plan.
Cross thematic linkages (HIV/AIDS, Women’s rights, IFSN, communications, Partnership development, IECT) were highlighted as an approach to deepening program quality.

The Africa region re-affirmed its commitment to support the sub-region by securing additional technical capacity and nesting the regional food rights function within Southern Africa.

This meeting lasted two days and brought together the agencies food security practitioners and created the space for increased networking with regional institutions thematic teams and country level staff. As the first of the Southern Africa Regional Management group (SARM)’s quarterly food security meetings it created opportunities for the updating of the contextual analysis and the realignment of country level actions and regional priorities. These will be benchmarked against progress in the next quarterly meeting to be held in June.

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