20 August 2012

Southern Africa: SADC Faces Food Shortage

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
Women and children wait to receive a cooked meal: The SADC region would experience an overall cereal deficit of 5.5 million tonnes.

Maputo — THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have been warned of an impending food shortage as a result of poor rains this season.

The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Tomaz Salomao, said here on Saturday that the region would experience an overall cereal deficit of 5.5 million tonnes.

"This will therefore result in an increase in the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance in terms of food and non-food intervention," said Dr Salomao. Reading the Final Communique of the 32nd Summit of the SADC Heads of States and Government, he urged member states to undertake appropriate measures to ensure sustainable food security in line with the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.

"In the short term, member states are encouraged to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance," urged Dr Salomao, noting that the Summit had reviewed the regional food security situation, in particular cereal, non cereal and livestock production and noted the said deficit.

However, while adjourning Bunge session last Friday, the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, assured the nation that Tanzania had surplus of over 1.58 million tonnes of food.

Dr Salomao said the Summit also noted that the economic performance of the region was characterised by a slow growth as shown by a decline in real GDP from 5.5 per cent in 2010 to 4.7 per cent last year and a stagnant level of average inflation at 8.3 per cent.

"This trend was largely influenced by developments in the global markets especially in the Eurozone," he said adding that the Summit also noted progress made towards the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area, especially preparatory work to facilitate negotiations under the chairpersonship of the SADC region.

The Summit, he further said, directed ministers responsible for finance and investment to expeditiously address all outstanding issues in order for the Regional Development Fund to become operational.

The Fund is a financial mechanism intended to mobilise resources from member states, private sector and development partners to finance programnmes and projects for regional development and deeper integration.

Dr Salomao further said the Summit reviewed the status of implementation of infrastructure programmes in the region and also adopted the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan Vision 2027 for implementation for over a 15-year period (2013-2027).

The plan is to serve as a key strategic framework to guide the implementation of efficient, seamless and cost effective trans-boundary infrastructure networks in an integrated and coordinated manner in all the six sectors namely, energy, transport, tourism, information and communication technology, postal, meteorology and water.

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