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Prioritising food systems will ensure food security in the post-malabo era

Opinion: Climate, Food Security & Nutrition

Prioritising Food Systems Can Chart the Course for a Food-Secure Post-Malabo Era

Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba

As the Malabo Declaration – a cornerstone of Africa’s agricultural transformation over the past decade – approaches its end, it is imperative to reflect on its progress and assess new priorities for a post-Malabo future.

The declaration, adopted by the AU Assembly Heads of State and Government in June 2014, set ambitious goals for agricultural development across the continent. While significant strides have been made, many challenges remain. There is a need for continued collaboration and innovation to ensure food security for Africa and the rest of the world.

Climate change impacts progress

Despite the promising future of these collaborative efforts, increasing food insecurity issues in Southern Africa, pose complex challenges to achieving the goals set out in the Malabo Declaration. The ongoing drought, worsened by global climate phenomena like El Niño, has plunged millions of people into hunger in countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Crop failures and water scarcity have left many communities on the brink of starvation, indicating the urgent need for international collaboration to avoid a total humanitarian catastrophe. According to a report by the Regional Interagency Standing Committee, the unprecedented drought in Southern Africa has led to catastrophic socio-economic consequences for communities in the region.

As of March 2024, food inflation due to the drought has increased to 84 per cent in Zimbabwe, 25 per cent in Angola and 42 per cent in Malawi. Families, as a result, are forced to make stringent survival decisions with women being the most affected. At least 6.6 million people in Zambia, as well as nearly 9 million in Malawi and 2.7 million people in Zimbabwe, require urgent humanitarian assistance.

Addressing food security challenges with collaboration

Recent initiatives, such as the El Nino Policy Briefing meeting co-hosted by FANRPAN, CARE Southern Africa, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), underscore the importance of collective efforts in tackling cross-cutting food security issues.

The meeting brought together stakeholders from leading institutions working in Southern Africa to come up with actionable recommendations for addressing the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon and to promote sustainable agriculture practices.

Furthermore, FANRPAN and its partners launched the Community-Based Adaptation: Scaling up Community Action for Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Southern Africa and Beyond (CBA-SCALE Southern Africa+) project, focusing on building resilience to climate change and safeguarding ecosystems and biodiversity.

By focusing on community-led initiatives in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, this project aims to address the interconnected challenges of food security and environmental sustainability.

A new course of action for a post-Malabo era

The Malabo Declaration’s commitment to halve the number of people in poverty by 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth is exemplary of the ambition needed. Yet, as we approach its deadline, it is evident that continued efforts are required to achieve a food-secure Africa.

Addressing food security issues requires a holistic approach that considers the interconnectedness of food systems, livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Therefore, as we plan for a Post-Malabo future, we must ensure that we chart a course to overcome food production challenges, especially as Africa has the fastest growing population of any continent. 

African leaders and policymakers need to focus on strengthening collaborations and investments in resilient and sustainable food systems to lay a solid foundation for a food-secure and prosperous Africa in the post-Malabo era.

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