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ODI FANRPAN SARPN

Zambia - National Consultative Meeting: Strengthening institutional capacity for supporting food, agricultural and natural resources policy formulation and implementation in the SADC region1

held at the
Agricultural Consultative Forum (ACF), Lusaka, Zambia

ODI, FANRPAN & SARPN

14 July 2005

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Executive Summary

The Zambia national consultative meeting brought together 24 out of the 30 target participants from 4 core sectors: 6 government, 4 research institutions, and 14 private sector and non-governmental organisations. 4 facilitators and 8 press members also attended bringing the total attendance to 36. The meeting took place at the ACF conference room. The Chairperson of ACF - Ms Miriam Nkunika welcomed the participants to ACF and pointed out that ACF was happy to host the meeting as it was in line with its core business of continuous stakeholder consultation, advisory services and networking. Through these processes public-private dialogue and partnerships, in the agricultural sector, have been strengthened. She pointed out that this consultation was going to discuss the question: "What are the Zambian experiences in food security policy dialogue at national and regional level?"

The FANRPAN CEO, Dr Lindiwe Sibanda outlined the context of the consultation and presented three key objectives. Firstly - strengthening institutional capacity for policy development - and the key question she posed for consultation was: "which institutions and for what purpose?" Secondly - supporting policy formulation and implementation in the FANR sector - and the guiding question posed was: "whose role is it to formulate, implement and monitor policy?" Thirdly - influencing policy with evidence-based research - and the key question posed for the consultation was: "whose responsibility is it to collect data, package it and present it for effective policy formulation, implementation and monitoring?" She pointed out that the meeting was the first in a series of meetings lined up five pilot SADC countries. She observed that Zambia was selected as a starting point because of the active participation of ACF. Dr Sibanda also presented the operational and institutional structure of FANRPAN, as well as the current programmes across the region - as evidence of the window of opportunity that the FANRPAN platform provides for evidence-based policy influence in the region.

The meeting was opened by Dr Peter Sinyangwe, a Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO), on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in charge of marketing and cooperatives, Dr Sam Mundia. This high-level government presence was indicative of the strategic positioning of FANRPAN in bridging the gap between other stakeholders and government. The Director pointed out that the government of Zambia recognised the complementary roles played by other stakeholders in the Zambian Agriculture. He, also, pointed out that the government has provided a consultative window for all players through ACF. Mr Sinyangwe observed that many aspects of national food security are anchored at regional level including seed policy, GMO and biosafety policy, water and irrigation, early warning systems and agricultural trade and thus the need to engage at regional level. He, further, observed that there was need to build a strong national multi-stakeholder policy dialogue platform that would serve as a basis for engagement at regional level.

Prior to opening of the consultation, the Director expressed concern by the Zambian government about the use of the term "civil society organisations (CSOs)" - as this tended to have political connotations in Zambia. The meeting thus adopted the use of the term "agro-based NGOs" in reference to CSOs present at the consultation. The participants observed, however, that the flip side of this concern is the recognition that CSOs have the potential to bring about significant change - if well organised. Evidence-based advocacy will go a long way, not only in legitimising this potential, but also in adding to the credibility and integrity of CSOs.

The main thrust of the 1-day consultation was two-fold - firstly to present the SARPN-ODI-FANRPAN regional project concept for promoting the use of CSO evidence in policies for food security; and secondly to strengthen the Zambia FANRPAN node as part of USAID funded FANRPAN project to revitalise country nodes. The theme "Strengthening institutional capacity for supporting Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources policy formulation and implementation in the SADC region", which encompasses both thrusts, was thus adopted for the consultation. This will be the running theme for all national consultations because it provides both for the building of the institutional capacity of CSOs to engage in evidence-based policy advocacy and the strengthening of the FANR country policy dialogue platform.

The organising and hosting of the consultative meeting by ACF, in collaboration with the FANRPAN node Coordinator - Dr Kalinda - based at the University of Zambia, was a departure from the traditional FANRPAN procedure of operating through the university based node. This was a clear statement of the new FANRPAN impetus to broaden the participation in node activities as enshrined in its constitution. The exemplary performance of ACF in hosting this event was a clear statement to FANRPAN on the need to review the "host organisation" for the node - if it is to become more effective and efficient. The less bureaucratic nature and the broadness of a network like ACF makes it conducive for hosting a multi-stakeholder platform like FANRPAN. The recognition and respect that ACF has acquired as a source of sound agricultural advice to government further rendered it a preferred organisation for hosting policy dialogues. The participants affirmed these sentiments and selected ACF to be the new host organisation for the revitalised Zambia FANRPAN node. A task force - the FANRPAN Zambia steering committee - was constituted to lead the revitalisation of the node as well as recruit a node facilitator.

Three civil society organisations presented their food security advocacy programmes at national level. The Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) presented its "food security pack (FSP)" programme as evidence of its advocacy towards sustainable livelihoods for the poor. PAM was contracted by the Zambian government to empower vulnerable but viable households to be self-sustaining and food secure through the distribution of a food security pack. The main purpose of the pack is to empower small-scale farmers who had become vulnerable due to recurrent poor weather and impact of structural reforms and to provide productive as opposed to consumption oriented social safety net.

The FSP programme targets 200,000 households per year based on a set of primary (viability) and secondary (vulnerability) criteria. The pack is composed of cereals, legumes, root/tuber, fertilizer (for recipients of maize) and agricultural lime (for recipients in areas affected by soil acidity). These packs are distributed as in-kind loans. The recipients pay for the packs after production and 60% recovery has been achieved so far. The exit plan is a gradual graduation of viable households from the pack to a higher programme - the fertiliser support programme (FSP). Participants observed that the pack lacked a livestock component and that there is need to focus on marketing and the promotion of substitute crops. The biggest challenge of the programme was the fact that the pack cannot be distributed as a stand-alone - but rather must be part of a broader holistic programme that includes alternative livelihoods, markets and entrepreneurship development, small-scale irrigation systems, and improved extension services.

The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) presented their monitoring tool - the "Basic Needs Basket (BNB)" that they have used monthly, since 1990, to survey the cost of essential food and non-food items that comprise the bare-minimum basket of goods needed for an urban family of six (6) to survive with a decent and healthy standard of living in Lusaka. This tool was set up mainly to assess the impact of economic liberalisation, as a structural adjustment macro-economic policy, on people's livelihoods.

The BNB tool graphically reveals the declining living conditions and declining economic performance. It also reveals the declining opportunities for families to access decent employment, health care, education and other social services. This tool has been the basis of JCTR's extensive advocacy programme for prudent social-economic and political decisions. The main challenge is that the BNB survey has, to date, been limited to urban centres and has not spread to rural areas. The JCRT plans to extend its coverage to rural areas. Participants observed that there was very limited government involvement in the BNB survey and recommended collaborative initiatives in order to build rapport for policy influence. Participants also noted that JCRT needed to move beyond just running the BNB survey and also engage in building the capacity of the families to reduce and manage their cost of living - and that this could be easily be achieved indirectly by developing linkages with other organisations already involved in entrepreneurship development.

The Zambia Women in Agriculture (ZAW) presented its advocacy work in mobilising rural women to participate gainfully in agriculture. This presentation was remarkable in that it was made by a visibly transformed rural woman -Ms Cecilia Makota - who now carries the banner on behalf of her folk in rural Zambia. She explained that most women still do not have access to the critical factors of production - especially land and credit. She indicated that this was mainly due to traditional cultural norms that have tended to portray women as subservient to men. She pointed out the urgent need for improved rural transport infrastructure, information and communication facilities, as well as, improved agro-marketing systems for rural women. She called for strict adherence to the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The meeting noted the exemplary linkages and relationships ZAW enjoyed with the provincial and district level government agricultural departments, as well as, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO).

From the three CSO (Agro-based NGOs) presentations, it was clear that excellent food security policy engagement is taking place at national. It was, however, clear that there was little or no engagement at all at regional level. This was clearly the space for the Look, Listen and Learn (and Act) project. Fred Kalibwani made a presentation of the project concept. The background paper to the project, outlining the current status of food security in the SADC region, the key on-going FANR policy processes and the key actors at regional level, was not presented because it was not yet reviewed by the partner organisations - ODI, SARPN, and FANRPAN. This was referred to the next consultative meeting, which will take place in Lusaka 9-11 August 2005 - alongside another FANRPAN forum on maize marketing.

Following the recommendations from the participants it as unanimously agreed that the Zambian FANRPAN node would, henceforth, be housed and supported by the ACF. A node steering committee based on the FANRPAN constitution (6-8 people drawn from government, policy analysts, agro-based NGOs and the private sector) will be constituted before end of July 2005. This committee will oversee the recruitment a node facilitator that will be based at ACF. ACF will provide an office and logistics while FANRPAN will provide the monthly remuneration.

In closing the Dr Anthony Mwanaumo quoted a saying by the chairperson of ACF: "the best room there is, is room for improvement" and noted that from the deliberations of the day - it was clear that the only room there is, is room for more and more engagement in food security issues by all stakeholders.


Footnote:
  1. Funded by USAID – Regional Centre for Southern Africa (RCSA)


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