The UN appeal for US$611 million in July 2002 for emergency food and medical supplies to avert the crisis facing 12 million people in 6 countries in southern Africa highlighted the continued failure of policies intended to achieve poverty reduction and food security in the region. There are a wide range of contributory factors including disparities between donor, governments and NGO objectives; deteriorating governance and accountability of key institutions; failures in agricultural input and output markets post-liberalisation; and the underlying vulnerability of many households, exacerbated by HIV/AIDS. There has been much research on these issues over the last decade: why is so much relevant policy analysis failing to result in practical changes?
The Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa has brought together a wide range people from governments, academic institutions, NGOs and international institutions to discuss these issues in greater depth, and has generated some clear evidence-based policy recommendations. The challenge now is to get them adopted and put into practice.
This paper reviews the current understanding about how evidence contributes to policy processes and makes some specific recommendations about how Forum for Food Security processes could be extended to better promote policies for poverty reduction and food security in Southern Africa now and in the future.