FAO Regional Office for Africa

Lawmakers in Eastern Africa gear up a new push to combat food insecurity and malnutrition

Parliamentarians of Eastern Africa nations held their Third Annual General Assembly

A Women from the Mutambara I Village de la Paix in Burundi, planting cassava under the guidance of technical experts of the EU/FAO Project. ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

16 March 2020, Djibouti – Food insecurity and malnutrition will continue to hamper economic development and people’s wellbeing, unless national governments take brave measures to unravel the predicament, said parliamentarians, drawn from 10 Eastern Africa nations. 

In their 3rd Annual General Assembly, held from 8 to 10 March 2020 in Djibouti, members of the Eastern Africa Parliamentarian Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA - FSN), underlined that now was the critical time to enact and enforce laws on food security and nutrition. They noted ensuring the allocation of an adequate share of national budgets for agricultural development and food security programmes is a priority.

Opening the Assembly, H.E. Mohamed Ali Houmed, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Djibouti, highlighted that hunger can be eradicated and lawmakers could play a leading role in attaining this goal.
“Parliamentarians are essential partners in the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition, putting in place appropriate policies and legislations, as well as controlling budget allocations. This Alliance needs to create a space dedicated to legislative processes to ensure that the issues of food security and nutrition are well placed in the decision making processes and legal frameworks,” he said.

H.E. Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) observed that, in addition to satisfying people’s nutritional needs, food security provides the basis upon which peace and security can prevail.
“Despite some impressive economic advances, climate-induced disasters, armed conflicts and economic crises continue to drive hunger and food insecurity across the subregion. This Assembly presents an opportunity to understand the food crisis landscape, analyse the complex interplay between the drivers and consequences of the food crisis, and discuss ways of averting the crisis,” he added.

On behalf of FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, David Phiri, Pissang Tchangai Dademanao, FAO Representative to Djibouti, remarked that FAO was honoured to have supported the establishment and institutionalisation of the Alliance.
“In Kigali, Rwanda, a baby angel was born; it took its steps in Arusha, Tanzania and now is becoming an adult in the Republic of Djibouti. The Alliance is growing from strength to strength and has reached at a point where it has begun the mobilisation of its own operational resources. The Alliance is also now poised to support drafting or overseeing the implementation of appropriate policies and legislations that advance food security and nutrition in the subregion,” he remarked.
The Assembly brought together members of EAPA FSN, which include two Member of Parliaments (MPs) and one parliamentary assistant from each member country, and high-level representatives from IGAD and East African Community (EAC) secretariats, UN agencies (IFAD, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, UN Resident Coordinator), NGOs, universities, and the private sector.
About EAPA - FSN
Acknowledging the insufficient progress in food and nutrition situation, Member of Parliaments (MPs) from eastern African nations established the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA - FSN) in April 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania. It comprises of MPs from 11 countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the IGAD Inter-Parliamentarian Union (IPU) are also member of the Alliance. The Alliance is a subregional platform that promotes cross border sharing of experience and best practices for more advocacy work.

FAO supported the organisation of their three Annual General Assemblies held in April 2019, October 2019 and March 2020 to fast track the operationalisation of the Alliance, through the endorsement of the work plan and road map, which focus on the means by which food insecurity and malnutrition in the subregion can be significantly reduced.

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