The Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations partnership is working tirelessly to address food security and nutrition challenges on the continent.

During the ongoing sixth ordinary session of the fourth parliament in Midrand, South Africa, various stakeholders, including Members of the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA – FSN) and a delegation from the FAO gathered for a Project Inception Workshop under the theme “Strengthening capacities of parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for food security and nutrition including right to adequate food.”

“The inception workshop is meant to build our member’s capacity and awareness on food and nutrition security in Africa, including kick-starting the activities as per the MOU between PAP and FAO in championing the agenda ending hunger by 2021 through the smart legislative engagements,” said Hon Jacqueline Amongin.

Hon. Amongin who headed PAP’s Committee on rural economy, agriculture, natural resources and environment also doubles as first vice-president for the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA – FSN).

The gathering is a follow-up to a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) signed between FAO and Pan African Parliament titled “Strengthening capacities of Parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for Food Security and Nutrition,” last October 2017. Also in attendance were Government representatives from the four project pilot countries of the African Union (AU), namely; Cameroon, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Overall, it is envisaged that the TCP project would strengthen the capacities of the members of the Pan-African Parliament to position food security and nutrition at the highest levels of the political and legislative agendas. The project, with funding of USD350, 000, started in October 2017 and is expected to end in October, 2019.

“This is a very relevant workshop for us because we as a continent still have majority of the people who do not have access to food.  Stunting is still prevalent, particularly in our African continent and this needs to be tackled instantly. It is our role as African legislators to see through a hunger-free continent,” added Hon. Amongin.

The region is affected by the multiple burden of malnutrition and is not on course to meet most of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Nutrition targets for the next decade, even though for some countries the prospects are better than those of other states.

African Leaders in 2014, through the Malabo Declaration and its implementation strategy and roadmap, committed themselves to reducing stunting to below 10% in Africa and underweight in children under 5-years- old to below 5% by 2025, with the aim of eliminating hunger in Africa in the next decade.

The Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS) 2015-2025 outlines the specific role of the African Union Commission (AUC) in the elimination of hunger and malnutrition. In October 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-PAP Dialogue was held after the formalisation of the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) by representatives from the PAP, PAPA-FSN, and FAO in October 2017.

Lewis Hove, FAO Country Representative for South Africa mentioned that, “Evidence has shown that food security and nutrition policies and frameworks that are anchored in legislation are more effective and sustainable.”

“Parliamentarians are therefore critical partners in the fight to eradicate poverty and malnutrition given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles, among others” added Hove.

Under the Agreement, the FAO will provide technical assistance to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), upon request from the AU/DREA, for the execution of the Technical Cooperation Project entitled “Strengthening Capacities of Parliamentarians in Africa for an Enabling Environment for Food Security and Nutrition including Right to Adequate Food.”

The TCP is designed to enhance the capacities of Parliamentarians to prioritise the eradication of malnutrition and elimination of all forms of hunger on the continent. Additionally, it seeks to reinforce consensus on the importance of addressing the structural challenges to achieving food security and nutrition through a human rights based approach, and strengthen national capacities to create the enabling legal and institutional environment for improved food security and nutrition.

The project supports FAO Strategic Objective 1: Contribute to the Eradication of Hunger, Food Insecurity and Malnutrition, and Regional Initiative 1: Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025.