UN Seeks Alliance With PAP To Address Food Security

5 May 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa – The number of undernourished people in Africa continues to increase with an estimated 217 million in 2014 to 2016 compared to 175 million in 1990 to 1992. Issues of stunting in children, malnutrition and non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, cost the continent billions and hamper economic growth.

Citing concerning, yet familiar facts about hunger in Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), appealed to African parliamentarians for closer collaboration during the fourth Pan-African Parliament’s second sitting.

The PAP and the FAO agreed on the establishment of an Alliance for Food Nutrition Security by the end of 2016, that will see the two organisations working closer together to address the mammoth task of fighting hunger and malnutrition in Africa.

The need for a stronger alliance between the PAP and the FAO followed from African parliamentarians’ participation in meetings by the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean (PFH LAC) in November 2015.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Special Coordinator for Parliamentary Alliances, cited significant results achieved by the PFH LAC since its inception in 2009, and held it forward as a model for the PAP and the FAO to work together.

Since its inception of the PFH LAC, 17 national fronts have joined, four framework laws have been produced to guide member countries and 12 laws on issues relating to food and nutrition security have been enacted nationally.

The FAO believes similar results is achievable in Africa.

“Africa suffers from a multiple burden of malnutrition,” said Dr David Phiri, the FAO’s sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa. “Adequate resource allocation in national budgets is critical, and relevant sector laws should create an enabling environment to advance food security on the continent. We recognise that parliamentarians are fundamental custodians of political commitment on food security and nutrition, specifically in light of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Phiri.

He cited the need to increase taxes on unhealthy foods high in processed fats, sugar and salt content and provide tax incentives for healthy, nutrient-dense foods, as examples of how Africans can work collectively to eradicate malnutrition.

Believing in Parliamentarians legislative, budgetary and oversight roles at national level, the FAO continues to lobby various parliamentary fronts or alliances, including Members of the European Parliament, to position the issue of food and nutrition security at the highest level of the political and legislative agenda.

The FAO stated its continuous commitment to collaborate with Pan-African Parliamentarians. “We realise that we need to be cognisant of issues such as macro-economic stability and leadership if we want to make the alliance work, but I also know that if MPs are involved, we can move mountains, we can make hunger and malnutrition a thing of the past in Africa,” Rodrigues-Birkett concluded.

This FAO presentation preceded by reports and a debate on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), specifically focusing on Benin, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa.

Established in 2003, the APRM is a self-monitoring mechanism voluntarily complied by the member states of the African Union (AU). The mandate of the APRM is to encourage conformity among African countries in regard to political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards, aligned to the socio-economic development objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

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