The Eastern Africa Parliamentarian dialogue on Food and Nutrition Security was held in Kigali, Rwanda from 21 to 22 November 2017, bringing together Parliamentarians from member countries of FAO Subregional office for Eastern Africa in committees or networks on agriculture, food and nutrition, Health and Women/Gender. MPs who participated in the dialogue came from; Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.
The meeting aimed to discuss the important role of parliamentarians in ensuring food and nutrition security and foster the East African legislator’s support and commitments to ending hunger and malnutrition in the sub-region through adequate laws and policies on food security, nutrition, and school feeding.
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While opening the dialogue, Speaker of Chamber of Deputies Rt. Hon. Mukabalisa acknowledged the role Parliamentarians play in this area through enacting laws and control over the Executive as representatives of the citizens.
“Given the big number of people who suffer from malnutrition, we must join our efforts to place issues of agriculture and food security high on national development plans and investment priorities and our role as Parliamentarians is crucial,” she noted.
There has been increasing number of hungry people in Eastern Africa with 24 million people currently affected in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan. Some of the challenges that affect food security and nutrition in the region include, inadequate rural access to financial services, drought, conflicts, population movement and increasing food prices.
In the face of this growing trend, Mohamed Awdahir, FAO’s partnership officer, remarked that FAO is scaling up its technical support in operationalizing nutrition sensitive agriculture in line with its mandate to end all forms of malnutrition. FAO is working with partners including Parliamentarians in the fight against hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
“Evidences shown that wherever programmes and projects are grounded in appropriate food security and nutrition laws and policies, food security and nutrition indicators are significantly improved,” he said.
With their budgetary and oversight roles, Parliamentarians are well positioned to place food security and nutrition at the highest level of the political and legislative agenda.
Rose Atima Ayaka, a Ugandan lawmaker pledged to upscale sensitization of fellow Parliamentarians and the local citizens alike to understand that nutrition is key in the communities, and increase advocacy so that her Country Uganda accords food and nutrition security utmost attention.