Victoria Falls — THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers has called for the establishment of a regional fund to assist member States in emergency situations, especially in the face of the Ebola virus pandemic.
SADC Council of Ministers has directed the Finance Sub-Committee to assess modalities for the establishment of a regional fund to assist member States in emergency situations of a medical nature, including the possibility of utilising the existing funds.
This is according to a joint communiqué issued at Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe yesterday.
Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who is also new SADC Council of Ministers chairperson, chaired the meeting which was attended by ministers from all member States.
The SADC Council also commended South Africa for offering its technical capacity and experience on Ebola and encouraged member States to take advantage of the offer.
On gender and development, the council urged member States that had not yet achieved the set target for equal representation of women in political and decision-making positions to take appropriate measures to do so.
Member States were urged to consider adopting appropriate measures, including legislation, policy and reform of the electoral system to facilitate the achievement of the gender parity goal in political and decision-making positions.
SADC Executive Secretary, Lawrence Tax said the council directed the regional body's Secretariat to set up a taskforce to facilitate the draft regional multi-dimensional women's economic empowerment programme.
Dr Tax said member States were urged to advocate for women's access to land as it was key to food security and poverty alleviation in the region.
"Ownership and control over productive resources such as finance, credit and technology can improve women's economic capabilities," Dr Tax said.
On the programming of the 600 million Euros funding for the regional infrastructure, Dr Tax said the council approved the SADC list of potential regional infrastructure investment projects to be considered for financing under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for 2015/2016 annual action plan.
Further, the council urged member States to expedite the implementation of the SADC road map on digital broadcasting migration to ensure the region meets its international obligations and migrate before the deadline of June 17, 2015.
On the status of power demand and supply in the region, the SADC Council of Ministers urged member States to implement planned power generation projects on schedule to effectively address power shortfalls in the region.
The council also endorsed the decision taken by the Committee of Ministers on Trade to address some of the implementation challenges of the Free Trade Area.