THE number of food and nutrition insecure people in the SADC region has increased to 29.4 million, from last season’s 27 million after a drop from 38 million in 2016/17, according to a State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability Report.
On July 9, SADC released the 2018/19 State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability Report, which was compiled soon after the harvest season and is developed to support and influence decision making by governments in the region.
According to the report, 16 per cent of the region’s rural populations have consistently been food and nutrition secure for the past five years.
“According to the report the number of food and nutrition insecure people has increased to 29.4 million, from last season’s 27 million after a drop from 38 million in 2016/17. Climate change is the major reason compromising quality and quantity of production. From experience, the majority of the 16 per cent are women. Only seven per cent of the SADC land is under irrigation, representing 3.4 million hectares against potential for 50 million hectares. Winter cropping and irrigation could help in averting the escalation of disaster,” a statement issued by CARE International Southern Africa Advocacy and Partnerships Coordinator Vitumbiko Chinoko.
According to the report, stunting reduction was off-track in Southern Africa with about 20 million children under five years being stunted.
“Proportion on stunting is generally going down in most countries except in Angola, DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa. According to WHA, stunting of above 20 per cent is considered high. One in three children under five years of age are stunted in SADC translating to an average of 30 per cent. 29.4 million people are estimated to be food insecure in 2018/19 season from April 2018 to March 2019 representing 14.2 per cent of the total population,” the report states.
“The increasing food insecure population reverses the improvement in 2017/18 when the number fell to 27 million from 38 million in 2016/2017. Almost 90 per cent of the 29.4 million are in DRC, South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Largest increases in affected population compared with the previous year are in Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Minimum Acceptable Diet (MAD) for the past 6-23 months is low with a range of 8 per cent in (Zimbabwe) to 38 per cent in Eswatini.”
According to the report, 2018/19 was predicted to have an El Nino, for the Southern Africa region.
“El Nino seasons are characterised by reduced rainfall. It is important that government invests in ensuring food availability and access for the poor who are usually the most affected. Governments and NGOs like #CARE should invest in winter cropping and irrigation because of the impending El-Nino in the 2018/19 farming season. The primary cause: Southern Africa is prone to climate change and variability, which adversely affects the food security and livelihood of the region’s population. Between 2014 and 2016, the region suffered the worst drought in 35 years, caused by the El Niño phenomenon,” the report states.
“Climate change continues to manifest as prolonged drought, floods, and cyclones. The region’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture has also led to volatile output levels from one year to the next. Only seven per cent of the region’s arable land is irrigated, yet 70 per cent of the population relies on agriculture for a living. Most of national efforts in agriculture and climate change are also not gender sensitive leaving out women, who are the majority food producers in the region.”