The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has embarked on a programme to strengthen the capacity of African lawmakers to address food security and nutrition challenges on the continent.
This follows the signing of a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) agreement on “strengthening capacities of Parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for Food Security and Nutrition” between FAO and the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in October 2017.
In May this year, various stakeholders, including members of the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA – FSN) and a delegation from the FAO held an inception workshop in Midrand, South Africa, which was also attended by government representatives from the four project pilot countries (Cameroon, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Uganda) of the African Union.
At the workshop participants agreed the TCP project would provide skills to strengthen the capacities of PAP members to position food security and nutrition at the highest levels of the political and legislative agendas. The project, with funding of US$350,000, is expected to be completed by October 2019.
Stakeholders commit to ending hunger and malnutrition
Despite the right to adequate food, there is staggering hunger and malnutrition among Africans. This demands structural reforms to create an enabling environment for food security and nutrition, along with relevant policies and legislation.
Africa faces the burden of malnutrition and is not on course to meet many of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Nutrition targets for the next decade, although some countries face better prospects than others.
Under the Malabo Declaration of 2014, African leaders committed themselves to reducing stunting to below 10% on the continent and underweight in children under five year to below 5% by 2025, with the aim of eliminating hunger in Africa in the next decade. The Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015-2025 outlines the role to be played by the African Union Commission in eliminating hunger and malnutrition.
“Evidence has shown that food security and nutrition policies and frameworks that are anchored in legislation are more effective and sustainable,” Lewis Hove, the FAO Country Representative for South Africa, told participants in his opening remarks at the workshop. Parliamentarians, he said, are therefore critical partners in the fight to eradicate poverty and malnutrition given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles.