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SADC Declares 2016 Regional Drought Disaster

By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone- The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers has agreed that the year 2016 should be declared a regional disaster, Chairperson of Council of Ministers for SADC has revealed.

Speaking to reporters in Gaborone following a meeting of SADC Council of ministers, secretary for economic affairs in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Dr Taufila Nyamadzabo who is also SADC council of ministers chairperson said by declaring the El-Nino-induced drought a regional disaster, this paves the way for donor agencies to assist in mobilising food aid for the estimated 28 million people facing hunger.

However, according to Nyamazdabo, attendees agreed that the issuing of statement of appeal for assistance would come through the SADC chairperson.

He stated that the council invited member states to provide immediate relief to meet food and non-food requirements of more than 28 million vulnerable populations affected by the previous poor season.

“Council also approved the establishment of a regional Logistics Team to coordinate a regional response in close collaboration with member states and International Cooperating Partners,” he said.

He further noted that the council invited member states to provide preliminary data on cereal and other food requirements for the 2016/ 17 marketing year by March 30 in order to facilitate planning logistics and resource mobilisation.

Nyamadzabo revealed that the council approved the SADC budget of US$71.9 million for the 2016/17 activities.

He said 23 per cent was allocated to trade investment and finance, 18 per cent to human resource and administration, 14 per cent to social health development and special services, 12 per cent organ activities and 7 per cent to infrastructure and services.

Nyamadzabo stated that the council approved the proposed timelines for finalisation of indicative investment and public costs to implement the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-20 for submission to council at its next meeting in August 2016.

He said the RISDP prioritised industrialisation and market integration, infrastructure development to support regional integration, peace, security and political cooperation.

Nyamadzabo said on the tripartite free trade area, the council urged member states to expedite conclusion of outstanding phase 1 negotiation issues which included rules of origin , trade remedies and finalization of tariff negotiations in order to fully operationalise the tripartite task force to convene a tripartite council of ministers.

“The council approved proposal by ministers of environment and natural resources for the establishment of a SADC wildlife crime prevention and coordination unit, which should be considered as part of the restructuring process of SADC secretariat so as to combat poaching,’ said Nyamadzabo.

The drought, which is the worst in more than 35 years, has affected nearly all Member States, leaving more than 28 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

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This emergency situation led the SADC Council of Ministers, at their meeting held in Gaborone, Botswana, on 14 – 15 March 2016, to approve a number of actions for the provision of immediate support to affected populations and adapt and mitigate against similar challenges in the future.

“This will help us scale up appropriate climate smart technologies on agriculture, energy, water and other relevant areas in order to adapt and mitigate against the impact of climate change,” he added. The SADC Secretariat also met with the Regional Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Chris Nikoi, the Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa Food and Representatives of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to discuss the preparedness and response to the emerging negative effects of the 2015/16 drought in SADC.

Briefing the media at the just ended SADC council of ministers meeting on Tuesday March 15, secretary for economic affairs in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Dr Taufila Nyamadzabo, stated that the council invited member states to provide immediate relief to meet food and non-food requirements of more than 28 million vulnerable populations affected by the previous poor season.

He further noted that the council invited member states to provide preliminary data on cereal and other food requirements for the 2016/ 17 marketing year by March 30 in order to facilitate planning logistics and resource mobilisation.

Dr Nyamadzabo said the council approved the SADC budget of US$71.9 million for the 2016/17 activities.

He said 23 per cent was allocated to trade investment and finance, 18 per cent to human resource and administration, 14 per cent to social health development and special services, 12 per cent organ activities and 7 per cent to infrastructure and services. He stated that the council approved the proposed timelines for finalisation of indicative investment and public costs to implement the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-20 for submission to council at its next meeting in August 2016.

He said the RISDP prioritised industrialisation and market integration, infrastructure development to support regional integration, peace, security and political cooperation.

Dr Nyamadzabo said on the tripartite free trade area, the council urged member states to expedite conclusion of outstanding phase 1 negotiation issues which included rules of origin , trade remedies and finalization of tariff negotiations in order to fully operationalise the tripartite task force to convene a tripartite council of ministers.

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He said the council approved proposal by ministers of environment and natural resources for the establishment of a SADC wildlife crime prevention and coordination unit, which should be considered as part of the restructuring process of SADC secretariat so as to combat poaching. (BOPA)

In her remarks, the Executive Secretary of SADC, Stergomena Lawrence Tax expressed SADC’s gratitude to UN Agencies for their expeditious partnership in responding to challenges posed by the drought, and called for a multi-sectoral and coordinated approach.

She indicated that while SADC takes the lead, UN Agencies are requested to support SADC through provision of the needed technical expertise and experience, while using their extended network to mobilise the needed resources in the implementation of necessary actions to respond to the situation.

“Council directed the Secretariat to expedite the finalization of the Draft Costed Action Plan of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap to facilitate its implementation.

Council also approved the proposed timelines for the finalization of indicative investment costs to implement the Revised RISDP 2015- 20 for submission to Council at its next meeting in August 2016,” said Lawrence Tax.

On Trade, Council approved the SADC Trade Facilitation Programme which will be mainstreamed in the RISDP implementation plan to support trade integration, industrialization, and mobilization of resources.

“Council approved among others, declaring of a Regional Drought Disaster and issuing a Statement of Appeal for Assistance by the Chair of SADC in consultation with Member States; and the establishment of a regional Logistics Team at the SADC Secretariat to coordinate a regional response in close collaboration with Member States,” said Lawrence Tax. Lawrence Tax has emphasised that implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy is a priority, and key to sustainable and equitable regional integration and development.

Responding to a question, as to whether it is realistic to implement a regional strategy despite the size and diversity of the SADC region, she responded that: “Indeed, and without any doubt as the strategy has the needed political backing of SADC Member States. Furthermore, in addition to political will there are a number of other programmes and initiatives that support the implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, including the SADC Infrastructure Development short-term Action Plan, SADC Project preparation Fund, and the SADC Regional Development Fund that is being operationalised”.

Lawrence Tax paid tribute to the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development (UONGOZI Institute) for their initiative to focus on the SADC Region in its next TV series that discusses “Realising the vision of the Southern African Development Community”.

She said this is testimony of the close relationship that exists between SADC and Uongozi Institute.

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