East African Lawmakers Unite to Support Climate Action, Prevent Food Crises, Malnutrition
In April 2019, parliamentarians from 11 countries, including Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, launched the East Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to address the food crisis threatening the populations of the region.
Parliamentarians from Eastern Africa have come together to call for urgent and decisive action by governments and relevant organizations to prevent food crises and malnutrition
in the sub-region.
Recognizing the vulnerability of the East African sub-region to serious impacts on food security, nutrition, poverty and livelihoods, the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA FSN) issued a joint statement in Nairobi, Kenya. The statement was issued following their participation in the Fifth General Assembly of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
During the meeting, discussions focused on the legal and policy aspects of climate action and food system transformation in the subregion. It also explored opportunities and priority actions, including policy options and financing mechanisms, to advance this critical agenda in East Africa.
In his remarks, EAPA FSN Chairperson Adan Haji Yusuf highlighted the critical role of legislators in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. He emphasized that their legislative, budgetary and oversight responsibilities put them in a unique position to prioritize food
and nutrition security on the political and legislative agenda.
Moses Wetangula, Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, highlighted Africa's continued struggle with poverty and hunger, despite having the necessary agricultural resources and policy tools. Wetangula questioned why Africa, with its abundant arable land, vibrant youth, favorable weather, and abundant water, has been unable to achieve food self-sufficiency and social transformation.
"I urge fellow parliamentarians to shift their attention towards fulfilling the crucial investment requirements for agriculture, as outlined in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, which stipulates that countries allocate ten percent of their national budget to agriculture," Wetangula was quoted as saying by media.
According to the latest FAO data
for 2023, approximately 135 million people in East Africa are undernourished, accounting for nearly half of the 282 million undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, 22 million children under the age of five are stunted, and 362 million people, or 85%of the region's population, cannot afford a healthy diet.
David Phiri, special adviser to the FAO assistant director-general and outgoing subregional coordinator for East Africa, underscored the urgency of both climate change and food insecurity
and malnutrition in the region. He noted that although the sub-region is home to less than 25% of Africa's population, it accounts for nearly 50% of the undernourished in sub-Saharan Africa.
Phiri highlighted the complex relationship between climate change and agriculture, which is creating unprecedented challenges for the farming community. Extreme weather events, largely caused by climate change, have become one of the main triggers of this predicament.