THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) is undertaking a number of regional initiatives in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response, in the wake of climate change in the region.
SADC representative Boweditswe Masilo said the magnitude of the disaster required additional measures to reduce the impact of El Niño on lives and livelihoods of affected populations and ensure that development gains registered in the past were not reversed.
Mr Masilo feared that the situation might scuttle the global Sustainable Development Agenda, adding that member states and partners should establish El Niño specific coordination centre at the SADC secretariat for this crisis.
The SADC consultative meeting focused on preparedness and response to the impact of the 2015/16 El Niño on agriculture and food and nutrition security in Southern Africa.
Mr Masilo said the strong 2015/16 El Niño has resulted in one of the driest rainfall seasons in over 35 years in Southern Africa and that it had an implication of low production of the 2015/16 agricultural season, leading to declines in food production in the region.
He said the climate change would result in the higher prices of maize and other cereals, livestock and livestock products and other food products, and in the process increased hunger and malnutrition given that approximately 70 percent of the region’s population either directly or indirectly depend on agriculture.
However, the SADC meeting acknowledged that since the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon would continue to recur, they agreed on the immediate implementation of short, medium and long-term measures in a collective and coordinated manner to minimize the impacts on the communities.
The meeting resolved that member states and partners should increase budgetary allocation for disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response and also the support of small-holder farmers to produce in the next production season.
They should also in the long term use risk financing instruments to manage disasters and implement regional agricultural policies that promote production, productivity, competitiveness and improve access to markets and promote private sector participation.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from 13 SADC member states that included Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from the humanitarian, development and donor communities, academia, NGOs, farmer unions and the private sector and the UN.