JOHANNESBURG – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed a landmark agreement yesterday to work together to improve food and nutrition security in southern Africa. While most of SADC’s 15 member countries are experiencing significant economic growth, the region is suffering high levels of child under-nutrition, a devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic, and deep vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity that is compounded by climactic and market shocks.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Gaborone, Botswana, yesterday by WFP Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions Sheila Sisulu and SADC Executive Secretary Dr. Augusto Tomaz Salomão. The accord highlights six main areas for cooperation including adaptation to climate change, disaster risk management and market development for smallholder farmers.
“SADC and WFP are already cooperating in a number of areas of mutual interest, such as in nutrition, food security and disaster and risk management”, said the SADC Executive
Secretary in his speech during the signing ceremony. “What this MOU does is to formalize and strengthen the existing relationship between our two institutions. WFP continues to be a catalyst for improved food production in the SADC region through its policy of buying grain within the region for its food assistance programme. This policy not only leads to increased regional food production but also improved food security, and reduces poverty among our people”.
“Working with partners like SADC is vital for WFP in finding long-term solutions to ending hunger in southern Africa,” said WFP’s Deputy Executive Director. “As we move from traditional food aid to providing food assistance to the most vulnerable, we need to work ever more closely with governments and intergovernmental institutions like SADC in increasing preparedness and resilience among communities to natural and others shocks that affect the region”.
The SADC region has emerged as one of WFP’s largest procurement hubs. Over the last eight years, WFP has procured more than one billion dollars of food in southern Africa, supporting economic growth and market development in the region, and contributing to the alleviation of hunger and malnutrition.