Posted by: africanpressorganization | 29 July 2011

EAC Secretary General’s Statement Drought and Food Insecurity in the EAC Region



EAC Secretary General’s Statement Drought and Food Insecurity in the EAC Region


ARUSHA, Tanzania, July 29, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -6 EAC Secretary General’s Statement Drought and Food Insecurity in the EAC Region


The East African Community (EAC) region is frequently affected by food shortages and incidences of hunger. This is despite the region’s huge potential to produce enough food for regional consumption and a surplus for the export market. Amongst the many factors leading to food insecurity in the region include:


i.    inadequate mechanisms to facilitate trade in food commodities between countries with abundant harvest and those experiencing deficits; and

ii.    over dependence on rain-fed agriculture that is highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change associated with extreme weather and climatic events such as droughts that translate into disasters.


The EAC has put in place adequate policy measures and practical concrete actions geared towards responding to food insecurity as result of the above factors. These include the approval by the Summit of Heads of State of two important instruments namely: the EAC Food Security Action Plan and EAC Climate Change Policy. These have been undertaken in accordance with the EAC Common Market Protocol that provides for free movement of goods and services including food commodities and conservation of environment.


The provisions of the Common Market Protocol also call for the removal on technical barriers to trade such as the non-tariff barriers (NTBs). A mechanism for monitoring and eliminating NTBs is in place. It also provides for the implementation of existing Protocols, Policies and Strategies on relevant areas of cooperation as espoused by the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC such as Agriculture and Food Security, Environment and Natural Resources Management and Trade. These include the Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources Management and the Protocol on Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures and their related Policies and Strategies geared towards addressing food insecurity, climate change and its related disasters such as droughts and trade in food commodities.


Existing Regional Tools for Coordinating Responses to Food Crisis and Drought Emergencies


i.    Implementation of the EAC Food Security Action Plan and the development of an EAC Early Warning System (EWS) to monitor food shortage in the region is currently underway. This is an operational mechanism for collecting, analysing and disseminating food security information in the region to assist Partner States and humanitarian community in responding to looming food shortages in sufficient lead time for appropriate and timely interventions.


ii.    In the livestock sub-sector, the EAC has developed a draft Regional Emergency Plan for Pastoralists in arid and semi arid areas. The EAC is implementing a draft Regional Plan of Action on Animal Diseases Control to curb livestock disease outbreaks especially trans-boundary diseases such as the Rift Valley Fever that are closely related to climatic variability within the arid lands.


iv.    Implementation of the EAC Climate Change Policy will be undertaken through the EAC Climate Change Strategy and Master Plan. The establishment of an EAC Climate Change Fund as a financial facility to mobilize adequate, reliable and predictable financial resources to respond to the impacts of climate change including climatic disasters such as the ongoing drought is a key regional effort in this regard. The Fund can also be used to channel humanitarian financial aid to respond to climatic related disasters and emergencies.


v.    Dissemination of seasonal rainfall forecasts through Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOF) in collaboration with National Meteorological Services and regional institutions such as the IGAD Climate and Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) through workshops for improved sectoral and national planning and budgeting purposes is being undertaken.


vi.    Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as a proactive rather than reactive approach to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation through risk assessment and monitoring, risk awareness and communication (early warning for early action and emergency preparedness), risk sharing strategies through insurance and micro finance schemes supported by effective disaster risk reduction policies will be undertaken at its fullest.


Call for Action


In addition to the above tools and initiatives, and in view of the current crisis in the region, the EAC calls for the need to undertake the following actions to address the current situation on the ground and be better prepared to respond to future situations:


i.    Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Common Market that call for elimination of NTBs and facilitate unhindered movement of food stuff and other relevant goods;

ii.    Rapid assessment of the drought and food security situation in the region to inform the line of action;

iii.    Appeal for humanitarian assistance from all local and international stakeholders to respond and avert further suffering of the affected communities; and

iv.    Mobilization of adequate resources to fully implement relevant regional instruments.

These actions can be undertaken by governments, private sector, NGOs and individuals each to its ability and according to existing instruments and capacities. The EAC will continue to play its role and facilitate coordinated responses as indicated above.


Furthermore, the Sectoral Councils responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, and Environment and Natural Resources will be meeting in August 2011 and comprehensively address all matters with regard to drought and food insecurity in the region.



Delivered by Dr Caleb Nyamajeje Weggoro, Director, Productive Sectors



East African Community (EAC)


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