Poverty blights SADC

Gaborone – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is facing multifarious challenges due to deepening poverty, a senior official of the regional grouping has said. 

SADC deputy executive secretary (Regional Integration), Engineer Joao Caholo, has said the drought and challenges associated with poverty the region is grappling with raise nutritional concerns. 

He noted this in Gaborone, Botswana, during a recent five-day workshop on building capacity to mainstream nutrition in national agriculture and food security investment plans in Africa. 

Addressing the media after the workshop, Caholo said that malnutrition, especially among children below the age of five, was a cause for concern, as it remains high in the region.  

The trend, Caholo said, makes it difficult for SADC member states to meet the regional indicative strategic development plan goal of helping to alleviate hunger by 2015. 

According to Caholo, one of the main objectives of SADC is to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and such economic development is to ensure poverty alleviate hunger with the ultimate objective of its eradication. 

He said the most effective way of overcoming regional challenges is to build capacity for member states to mainstream nutrition in national culture and food security investment plan. 

Caholo’s sentiments were shared by New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) Food and Nutrition senior adviser, Bibi Giyose, who observed that the region has relatively high levels of chronic malnutrition,

Giyose said the workshop was convened after the realisation that in terms of food and nutrition security, nutrition always falls through the cracks because nutrition is not the purview of any sector.

“The workshop was also meant to share knowledge, information and review the national agriculture investment plans for the countries that had them. It became evident that in terms of capacities required to implement activities on the ground, the nutrition capacities were weak,” she said. 

According to Giyose, countries that did not have national agriculture investment plans, were immediately expected to come up with nutrition elements to go into the plans as they were developed and to also use the process to support their policy and programme design and implementation.

“It was also realised that many countries did not have comprehensive policies for food and nutrition security. 

This is one area that had to be addressed by the different member states.”

Nutrition is a multi-sectoral issue demanding the identification of roles and responsibilities across all sectors, and co-ordination and management guidelines with clear indicators and targets to deliver on food and nutrition security.

Commenting further on what was achieved through the workshop, Giyose said “We were able to get countries to design a road map which is actually an action plan that they would be following and we would be monitoring those action plans implementation thereof. 

“From a multi-sectoral perspective, countries managed to come up with draft national country nutrition papers, which they were able to revise and add more information into as it emerged.”

September 2013
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