The core focus of Food Security in Southern Africa is sustainable access to safe and adequate food at all times. Poverty, drought and chronic disease can result in food system failures or chronically inadequate nutrition, making food security a top priority within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Stable food availability, food access, nutritional value and safety are important aspects of food security. Food Availability means there is a consistent local supply of appropriate food types, either imported or produced locally. Food Access means that the local population have the means to purchase or barter for the food they require for appropriate diet and nutrition. Available and accessible food must also be of sufficient nutritional value and be safe to consume if Food Security is to be attained. There should also be a stable supply and access to food for longer periods. This can be achieved with appropriate food production, handling and storage.
Natural and human-made disasters can affect Food Security. Disaster Preparedness addresses adverse conditions that reduce food availability, including:
- Droughts and prolonged dry spells;
- Floods, cyclones, or wildfires;
- Pests and diseases;
- Policies adversely affecting agricultural input prices (seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals etc.);
- Civil unrest; and
- Human / wildlife conflicts.
Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in the SADC Region
The Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in the SADC Region addresses the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS on human health, and the linked impact on agricultural production. It seeks the development of a competitive agricultural sector through:
- Improved access to agricultural inputs, including seeds, fertilisers and other agrochemicals;
- Promotion of draught power and appropriate equipment for tillage;
- Controls on diseases and improved crop storage and handling;
- Development of drought tolerant crops; and
- Improved fish stock management, processing and handling.
SADC Action on Food Security
SADC approaches the issue of Food Security through its Food Security Programme, and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan implementation framework. SADC monitors international food prices and is concerned with the impact of price increases of some commodities and fluctuation in global cereal stocks. In recent years, increases in food prices have been exacerbated by demand for food crops for use in biofuels rather than human (or livestock) consumption. The SADC region has been less affected by external market factors than it might have been due to positive local food crop production, making the region less susceptible as whole.
Several programmes to address food security are implemented by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate. These include the development and operation of the following programmes/units:
- Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS),
- Crop Development Unit; and
- Livestock Sector Unit.
Agricultural Information Management and Services
The SADC Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS); is designed to provide early warning of imminent disasters, assess vulnerabilities, monitor weather patterns and provide an integrated database for use in Food Security Planning for the SADC region. SADC conducts analysis of agro-meteorological and satellite remote sensing data through crop-growing seasons to support early warning activities. Remote sensing tools have been developed to monitor environmental changes and provide reliable satellite-based food security information. SADC provides food security bulletins, agro-meteorological updates, and seasonal outlooks through its Agriculture Information Services.
- A Regional Early Warning System provides advance information on food crop yields and food supplies and requirements. The information alerts Member States and stakeholders of impending food shortages/surpluses early enough for appropriate interventions. National Early Warning Units are established in all Member States to collect, analyse and disseminate early warning information at the country level.
- A Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme (RVAA) focuses on strengthening national and regional vulnerability assessment and analysis systems through institutional support, training and capacity-building. Working closely with regional partners, SADC responds to both short and long term food security constraints within a framework of monitoring, analysing and addressing the broader context of poverty and livelihood vulnerability. SADC's response to food insecurity is not restricted to emergency relief measures or agricultural programmes; it is framed within a long-term, comprehensive effort to understand poverty and vulnerability.
SADC works with other regional networks, such as the Southern African Regional Poverty Network, which is active in addressing food security issues and the African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD), whose Regional Implementation Centres, supported by the European Commission, deliver services to support natural resources management across Africa. In SADC, this includes agriculture (monitoring the state of the crops and rangelands), drought, and fire (monitoring fire-risk, active fires and burnt areas).
- African Monitoring for the Environment and Sustainable Development
- Famine Early Warning System Network
- The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations