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Improving legislative capacity to advance food and nutrition security in Africa

FAO and the Pan-African Parliament launch capacity reinforcement initiative for legislators

that will improve legislative capacity of the Pan-African Parliament on foLewis Hove FAOR South Africa a.i. and Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament launch a new project (Photo: ©FAO/Rachel Nandelenga)

11 October 2017, Midrand -The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Pan-African Parliament have launched a partnership to improve legislation of food and nutrition security issues in Africa.

The two -year project aims at enhancing the technical capacities of the Pan-African Parliament and the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA-FSN). It will also benefit legislators in four pilot countries; Cameroun, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Uganda to advance strategies, policies and laws on the right-to-adequate-food, investments in food and nutrition security at the national and regional levels, in collaboration with the Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC-DREA).

In his video message to the opening of the fifth Ordinary Session of the Pan-African Parliament, José Graziano da Silva, the FAO Director-General applauded the commitment of the legislators in advancing food and nutrition security in Africa.  He said parliamentarians are critical partners in the fight to eradicate poverty and malnutrition, given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles.

“Studies show that anchoring food security and nutrition policies and frameworks in legislation with sufficient resource allocation to achieve the right to adequate food and improved nutrition outcomes has very significant socio-economic returns”, he said.

Through this initiative, parliamentarians will be trained and provided with tools, advice and technical support for advocacy and multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms required to integrate food and nutrition security into regional and national legislation. At country level, the project will undertake a gap analysis on legal instruments for advancing food and nutrition security, including the right to food into national legal frameworks and assist with the establishment of national and sub-regional parliamentary alliances on Food Security and Nutrition.

Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament,  praised the initiative and FAO’s support in improving the capacity of legislators in advocating for as well as developing and implementing food and nutrition security policies.

“We now need to transform this commitment into concrete actions that will have a meaningful impact on the food and nutrition security of our people”, he said.

The Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, Bernadette Lahai, said the initiative will contribute to the realization of the right to food. “It will reinforce consensus on the importance of addressing the structural challenges to achieving food security and nutrition through a human rights approach”, she said.

Food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa

Despite the progress made in improving food and nutrition security in some countries, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest undernourished people with an increase trend both in its share from 20 percent in 2013 to 22.7 percent in 2016 and its absolute number from 200.4 million people to 243.2 million people in the same period (SOFI, 2017). The region is affected by the multiple burden of malnutrition with under-nutrition co-existing with overweight and obesity, and rising levels of diet related non-communicable diseases and micronutrient deficiencies.

New information from food commodity balances for many countries points to recent reductions in food availability and increases in food prices in regions affected by El Niño / La Niña-related phenomena – most notably in Eastern and Southern Africa. In addition, the number of conflicts has increased in the past decade, in particular in countries already facing high food insecurity and with much of the related violence affecting rural areas and having a negative impact on food production and availability, especially where compounded by droughts, floods, Fall Armyworms or other weather-related events and fragile response capacities.

Ending hunger and malnutrition is central to global and regional commitments 

The legislators observed that ending hunger and malnutrition are central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SGD1 – end poverty in all its forms everywhere and SDG 2 -   End hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition through sustainable agriculture.

These efforts reaffirm the commitment of African leaders in 2014, through the Malabo Declaration and its implementation strategy and roadmap to reducing stunting to below 10 percent in Africa and underweight in children under five years old to five percent by 2025, with the aim of eliminating hunger in Africa in the next decade. It is also in line with the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy, 2015-2025.

In October 2016, FAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pan-African Parliament, paving way for the establishment of the Pan African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA-FSN). The agreement is part of a broad strategy to step up the partnership and mobilize key actors with the aim to ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

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