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Sadc remains food insecure

2019-03-14  Albertina Nakale

Sadc remains food insecure
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WINDHOEK - Despite its huge resource endowments, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) food and nutrition security situation remains unstable and unpredictable.

The proportion of food insecure households in the Sadc region remains high despite improved food production in some member states in recent years.

This is contained in the Food and Nutrition Security Strategy 2015-2025 report, which was availed this week by the regional Secretariat during the Sadc Council of Ministers meeting that started Monday and ends tomorrow in Windhoek.

Available evidence indicates continued existence of chronic food insecurity, marked with high levels of poverty and disease burden.

Vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity amongst children, women and youth is known to be high in many Sadc countries.

The report shows that the consequences of malnutrition include physical and mental development of individuals and the detrimental impact on social and economic development.
Additionally, it outlines that children and women of childbearing age are the most affected by malnutrition because of their physiological conditions.

“Poor nutrition status combined with the communicable and non-communicable diseases burden and the generally weak health delivery system in the Sadc remains a case of concern,” the report stated.
Equally, it highlights that food and nutrition challenges and poverty are interrelated.

 According to the International Council on Social Welfare, poverty remains one of the greatest challenges in the region, with approximately half of the population living on less than U$1 (just over N$14) a day.
Issues of hunger, malnutrition, gender inequalities, exploration, marginalisation, high morbidity, and communicable diseases are a few of the complex challenges that contribute to poverty in the Sadc region.
In addition to poverty, the report indicates that the situation is further complicated by high prevalence of HIV/Aids, leading to the loss of agricultural labour force.

Exacerbating the situation are the frequent droughts and floods, high food prices and global financial crisis over the past decades that have also left many people in the region without food and in need of humanitarian assistance.
In terms of food production, cereal is a major contributor to food security in the region.

However, the report reveals that total cereal production has been fluctuating and failing to meet the region’s demand as reported by member states’ early warning systems.

Therefore, the region has had to meet its cereal requirements through commercial food imports and food aid.
“Cereal production and productivity have remained low due to a combined effect of high prices of inputs relative to that of agricultural commodity products and low investment in smaller-holder agri-based value chains,” the report indicates.
Moreover, it shows that fisheries contributes to food and nutrition security, economic development, trade and employment creation and the region has high potential for increased production.

Recent statistics indicate that the region produces only 2.4 million tonnes of the 148.5 million tonnes of global captured fisheries.

Equally, the region produces only 0.033 million tonnes of the 59.9 million tonnes of global aquaculture production.
The report shows that fisheries resources in the region are threatened by multiple factors, principal of which are overfishing, degradation of aquatic environments, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and climate change. 
Namibia and South Africa had the highest capture fisheries production among Sadc member states.

2019-03-14  Albertina Nakale

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