The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is facing a N$37-billion funding gap to fulfil its humanitarian obligations.
The figure was revealed by Prince Hlangusemphi, Swaziland’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development, in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers.
The need for funds was necessitated after Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana – while he was chair of the SADC – declared a Regional Drought Disaster and subsequently launched a Regional Appeal on 26 July 2016.
“Council further noted that the Humanitarian Appeal shows that the region requires US$2.9 billion to cover the humanitarian needs of about 40 million vulnerable people, out of which US$393.7 million (approximately 14 percent) has so far been raised by member states and their cooperating partners. This leaves a regional humanitarian gap of US$2.5 billion,” said Hlangusemphi.
Southern Africa has been badly affected over the past year by the El Nino weather pattern, which has wilted crops, slowed economic growth and pushed food prices higher.
Some 579 000 children will need treatment for severe hunger this year, and some 40 million people urgently need aid, according to official figures.
About 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Many farmers have been forced to spend money on food rather than seeds and fertilisers, and to sell off their cattle.
He said the Council received a report on the Operationalisation of the SADC Regional Development Fund and endorsed the roadmap for the establishment of the fund, including the member states contributions towards the fund over a period of three years.
“Council requested member states to introduce special drought relief cross-border permits to drought relief transport operators, introduce expedited customs clearance procedures for drought relief cargo; waive cabotage restrictions and suspend third country rule for drought inputs/exports; and provide safe transit for rail and road convoy and security at logistics hubs where necessary,” he said.
Themed “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation for Prosperity of the Region”, the summit tackled issues such as food security, industrialisation as well as ongoing unrest in Lesotho.
Council received a report on the costing of projects and programmes in the RISDP and noted that US$398 billion will be required to implement infrastructure-related projects.
“Council in adopting the report, directed the Secretariat to map available resources, assess financing modalities, and prepare a coherent financing plan focusing on the preparations of infrastructure projects to bankability, and the convening of an investment conference to showcase such projects; and finalise the SADC Regional Resource Mobilisation Framework in order to give further impetus to resource mobilisation efforts for the priority regional programmes/projects,” Hlangusemphi revealed.
From now on, the SADC Industrialization Week will be convened annually, alongside the SADC Ordinary Summit after it was endorsed by the Council.
Council also received a report on the three High Level Ministerial Multi- Stakeholder Workshops on namely, poverty eradication and food security, energy and water crisis and illegal trade in wildlife.
“The workshops accorded ministers an opportunity to exchange ideas on how best to address challenges in all these areas, as well as agree on practical solutions towards addressing these challenge,” Hlangusemphi said.