The 2001-03 crisis in Southern Africa was a symptom of the increasing vulnerability of the mainly rural population: the climatic variability of the 2001 and 2002 agricultural seasons was less severe than that which precipitated the last widespread crisis in the region in 1991/92. This vulnerability stems from more than a decade of failures in rural growth, affected by poor integration into input, output, finance and labour markets; the impact of HIV/AIDS; deteriorating institutional accountability; and the limited availability of relevant agricultural technology options. In addition, donor support to agriculture and rural development has declined. The immediate crisis may abate, but the underlying inability to cope with shocks will remain until the vulnerability of the population is addressed.
Key issues are:
- Human vulnerability: how has the vulnerability context for poor people in the region changed over the last decade; what are the implications of this for supporting poverty alleviation and food security;
- Market integration: what are the prospects and key needs for facilitating participation in input, output, finance and labour markets in the region;
- Social protection: what combination of macro and micro safety net interventions are needed to ensure secure access to food for the very poorest;
- Policy processes: what are governments' and donors' options for delivering assistance in situations of constrained institutional capacity.
The Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa has supported strategic thinking on these food security issues in Southern Africa by providing a platform for specialists and key policy stakeholders from the international and regional research community, governments, donors, NGO, civil society and private sector with identified specialist knowledge of the issues and the region. The project has produced a variety of country and regional papers and hosted moderated electronic discussions. The purpose of the Forum is to support initiatives by governments and donors to improve food security in the region. The work has focused on five countries - Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe - representative of a range of food security contexts across the region.
The Forum has the facility to generate tailor-made contributions to national and regional food security policy processes on demand from national and regional stakeholders and in collaboration with them.