The 2020 World Food day commemoration by Southern African Development Community (SADC) has placed focus on recognising joint efforts by food producers as a means for growing population and sustaining the planet.
SADC Executive Secretary Lawrence Tax shared the 2020 World Food Day outcomes against a backdrop of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the acute food insecurity in the SADC region.
The 2020 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa which was conducted by the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme estimated that 45 million SADC citizens, about 12% of the total population, are food and nutritionally insecure.
The SADC region has one of the highest stunting prevalence in the world, with over 30% of under-5 children stunted, which is considered too high by the World Health Assembly. Further, in nine out of the 16 SADC Member States, diets are not diversified enough and are too cereal-based which increases the risk of micronutrient deficiencies.”
Furthermore Dr Tax said “it is worth noting that the food security sector in the region has not been spared from the multi-sectoral and multidimensional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SADC assessment on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that the response measures, including lockdowns and movement restrictions that were put in place by government’s limited access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, and impacted on employment and household incomes. Due to limited access to food, some households have been pushed into adopting negative eating practices, including reduced quantity and quality of foods thereby failing to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life.”
This year`s theme is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together. Our actions are our future” and it’s a clarion call for countries, the private sector and civil society to ensure that food systems grow a variety of food to nourish a growing population and sustain the planet, together.
Furthermore this year`s event serves as a reminder to member states such as Botswana, who made commitments towards ending hunger and food insecurity. As only a decade remains towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 2 of ending hunger by 2030 and five years from Malabo Declaration commitment of ending hunger in Africa by 2025.
Other commitments include left with five years the regional objective of, among others, improving access to adequate and appropriate food in terms of quality and quantity as well as improving utilisation of nutritious, healthy, diverse and safe food by 2025 as spelt out in the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy.
In order to achieve this Dr Tax said: “Governments must put in place practical measures to support small-scale farmers who produce the bulk of the food in the region and support medium and large-scale producers and traders that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must also ensure that markets are back to safe and full operation so as to increase food access and boost the economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”