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Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Regional Conference on Enhancing Civil Society Participation in SADC Food Security Processes

Johannesburg, 14, 15 November 2005

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Portuguese translation:
ReforР·ando a ParticipaР·Ріo da Sociedade Civil nos Processos da SeguranР·a Alimentar na SADC - 104Kb ~ 1 min (14 pages)

Conference Report

Workshop rationale

Strengthening the food security of poor and vulnerable communities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is an issue attracting increasing regional and international attention. Countries throughout SADC are struggling with a livelihoods crisis, as communities are less able to cope with social and economic stresses.

A major area of contention is that the policy environment is not conducive to ensure food security partly because the realities from the ground, as articulated by the "voices of the poor and food insecure". A contributing factor to the weakness of policy processes has been the marginal participation of members of civil society in the development and implementation of policies relating to food security. This is largely because civil society organisations work in the arena between the household, the private sector and the state to negotiate matters of public concern. Hence strengthening the participation of civil society actors in policy processes in the region is an important component requiring attention.

As a response, the Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and SADC's Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) facilitated the regional workshop, aptly entitled "enhancing Civil Society Participation in SADC Food Security Processes". The conference, funded by Australian Aid, provided a forum for actors to discuss ways in which civil society agencies can link up and use their evidence to contribute and influence these policy processes. The participants comprised civil society organisations, donors, regional and international agencies, drawn from the SARPN, FANRPAN and ODI networks.

Earlier activities facilitated by SARPN, ODI and FANRPAN, involving civil society actors from across the region, identified several key policies and processes important for addressing food security. On the basis of this work and after consultation with the SADC secretariat, it was proposed that the workshop focus on the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) as a framework for identifying and engaging key polices relating to the promotion of food security in the region. Thus in view of the importance of the role of civil society in promoting food security, the conference set out to:

  • Identify the relevant polices and programmes in the region and their status;
  • Establish the nature and extent of existing civil society evidence in relation to these policy areas; and
  • Establish the opportunities for civil society to participate in regional food security processes.

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