We the undersigned organisations, women’s movements, networks representing rural communities, small scale farmers, environment protection, land and agrarian reform community activists and researchers are concerned about the deepening food inse-curity in the region, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We call upon governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ur-gently step up efforts end hunger and to ensure that the right to food is guaranteed to every community and household across the region regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, class or immigration status.
We welcome the incoming SADC Chair, His Excellency President Filipe Nyusi of the Re-public of Mozambique and urge him to put the question of food security and nutrition at the top of his agenda of as Chair, including championing an agenda to rethink and transform our food systems; supporting special initiatives to strengthen cooperation be-tween all stakeholders to urgently act on the burning question of food insecurity in the region.
We further call upon SADC to ensure and accelerate implementation of key regional protocols, declarations, decisions, policies, plans, and strategies that have a bearing on agriculture and food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable in our region. These include the SADC Charter of Fundamental Social Rights (2003), The SADC Gender Protocol (2013), the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security (2004), SADC Regional Agriculture Policy (2014), SADC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (2017-2022), the Africa Union Malabo Declaration (2014) and the SADC Food and Nutrition Security Strategy 2015-2025.
We commend the decisions of the 2011 SADC Council of Ministers and successive ones, to operationalise Article 5, 16A and 23 of the SADC Treaty and ‘bring SADC to the peo-ple’ through the establishment of a SADC institutional mechanism for engagement with Non-State Actors. However, we are concerned that nine years since this landmark de-cision, and notwithstanding several studies and rounds of consultations, we still do not have a final decision on formalising an inclusive and recognised mechanism for SADC’s engagement with Citizens. Yet it is evident that there has never been any change glob-ally that has taken place without the impulses of citizens. It is time to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of citizens and their formations across the region and in our national contexts. Any successful COVID19 food security recovery plan requires the col-lective efforts of citizens and governments; SADC can play a critical role in consolidat-ing those efforts.