Hot, Hungry and Starved of Investment: Supporting smallholders to build a climate-resilient agricultural sector in southern Africa | Food Security | Agriculture

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As the African Development Bank meets in southern Africa, one of the strongest and most sustained El Niño events on record – turbocharged by climate change – is causing severe drought, failed harvests and a hunger crisis across the region. This is being made worse by record high temperatures as a result of global warming. Women farmers are on the front line of climate change, yet are also the region’s first line of defence against food insecurity. With smallholder agriculture being critical to both food security and inclusive growth, governments – supported by donors and international organizations – must urgently implement plans to better support smallholder farmers and increase resilience. This paper outlines the current situation in the region and presents recommendations to help work towards this. 
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  OXFAM ISSUE BRIEFING MAY 2016 www.oxfam.org  HOT, HUNGRY AND STARVED OF INVESTMENT Supporting smallholders to build a climate-resilient agricultural sector in southern Africa As the African Development Bank meets in southern Africa, one of the strongest and most sustained El Niño events on record – turbocharged by climate change – is causing severe drought, failed harvests and a hunger crisis across the region. This is being made worse by record high temperatures as a result of global warming. Women farmers are on the front line of climate change, yet are also the region’s first line of defence against food insecurity. With smallholder agriculture being critical to both food security and inclusive growth, governments – supported by donors and international organizations – must urgently implement plans to better support smallholder farmers and increase resilience. This paper outlines the current situation in the region and presents recommendations to help work towards this.  2 WHAT IS AT STAKE – LESSONS FROM EL NIÑO One of the strongest and most sustained El Niño events on record – exacerbated by climate change – is causing severe drought, failed harvests and a hunger crisis in southern Africa and Ethiopia. This El Niño is being made worse by record high temperatures as a result of global warming, with 2014 being the hottest year on record until 2015 exceeded it. The trend is continuing, with 2016 set to be the hottest year yet. The scale of the crisis is overwhelming many governments as they are not receiving the support that they need. In March 2016, the Southern  African Development Community (SADC) declared a regional emergency, in addition to disaster declarations from Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and many provinces of South Africa. Zambia is not likely to declare a state of disaster, despite moving to restrict maize exports in the face of price increases. 1  Up to 49 million people could be at risk of hunger by the end of this year  2  and the emergency is expected to continue to get worse before the 2017 harvest. The impacts stretch beyond food security to economic and social shocks. In Zambia, for example, the difference in food production between regions is causing migration and price volatility. The crisis shows what happens when we fail to invest adequately in a strong smallholder-led agricultural sector – starting with women farmers who are on the front line of climate change impacts, yet are also the region’s first line of defence against food insecurity. THE NEED TO BUILD LONG-TERM RESILIENCE Right now, the priority must be to respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis in order to save lives and livelihoods – that is imperative. But beyond that, governments, supported by donors, regional and international organizations, must help communities build their own resilience to better prepare for, and cope with these crises. This is important because: ã  These types of weather shocks are no longer one-off events that occur every twenty or thirty years – they are starting to happen with much more regularity. Record temperatures, drought and unpredictable growing seasons are becoming the new normal – this is what the future looks like under climate change. 3   ã  The southern Africa region is already chronically vulnerable, with many of the region’s small-scale producers constantly in danger of slipping back into hunger.   3 ã  Early outside help cannot be relied upon. The El Niño response has demonstrated the challenge of mobilizing the international community to respond in time. The drought and related food crisis were signalled in advance, yet donors dragged their feet, ignoring the call for early intervention despite the evidence that it saves both lives and money. Failure to stem the crisis increases the burden on the world’s humanitarian system which is becoming ever more strained by an unprecedented number of global emergencies. Box 1: Key facts Why agriculture is key to food security and inclusive growth ã  In sub-Saharan Africa, GDP growth due to agriculture is estimated to be up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector. ã  Rain-fed agriculture provides livelihoods for 70 percent of sub-Saharan  Africa’s population, and contributes nearly one quarter of GDP. ã  Yet agriculture only receives 2 percent of government spending in SADC countries. In addition, the quality of investment is poor as it is heavy on subsidies and light on investment into the key drivers of a resilient agriculture sector such as extension services, sustainable land and water management, market access, and research and development. ã  The agricultural sector is most at risk of climate change: it bears over 80 percent of all economic losses caused by drought. The central role of women ã  Women farmers dominate smallholder agriculture across Africa. ã  They supply over half of the agricultural labour in Zambia, and make up over 60 percent of the agricultural labour force in Mozambique and Lesotho. ã  Yet in many SADC countries, women own or manage less than a quarter of agricultural land and water. ã  Women have access to less than 10 percent of the formal agricultural credit offered to small-scale farmers in Africa. ã  The FAO estimates that if women had equal access to land   and other productive resources, total farm   yields would increase by 20–30 percent. Sources: M. Mutamba et al. (2015). Beyond Good Intentions: Agricultural policy in the SADC region.  http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/beyond-good-intentions-agricultural-policy-in-the-sadc-region-565759; World Bank. (2016). High and Dry: Climate change, water and the economy  . http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water/publication/high-and-dry-climate-change-water-and-the-economy; FAO. (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture . 2010–11. http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i2050e/i2050e.pdf. Share of public spending on agriculture in SADC countries is for 2014, available on p210 of: ReSAKSS. (2014). Beyond A Middle Income Africa . http://www.resakss.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/ReSAKSS_AW_ATOR_ 2014_WEB.pdf  4  AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION TO DATE – A DECADE OF GOOD INTENTIONS Governments have made well-meaning commitments at African Union (AU) and SADC level to prioritize the agricultural sector for support and government funding. For example, the AU Malabo Declaration in 2014 reaffirmed an earlier commitment for African governments to spend at least 10 percent of their public budgets on agricultural development. This is based on the recognition that agriculture remains a critical driver of inclusive growth, given the dominance of smallholder producers and the importance of agriculture to GDP in many countries. Central to the transformation of agriculture in the region is the need to urgently reverse the undercapitalization of smallholder farming. Increasing governments’ budgetary allocation to the sector is key – as public spending is recognized as the most direct and effective instruments that governments can use to promote agricultural growth and poverty reduction in the  African context. Despite these commitments, governments have not ‘walked the talk’ – only one SADC country, Malawi, has consistently met the 10 percent budgetary allocation target. A failure by governments to translate high level political commitments into any form of implementation largely explains the failure to tackle the barriers that smallholders and women farmers face. Implementation also depends on smallholder and women producers being organized, engaged and vocal at national and regional level – as unorganized, small-scale producers are a soft target for budget cuts. This has been a challenge with the widely dispersed nature of smallholders in the region. Box 2: From Maputo to Malabo: timeline of commitments 2003 – AU Maputo Declaration  launches the Comprehensive Africa  Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Each country in Africa commits to invest a minimum of 10 percent of its budget in agriculture by 2015, with the aim of driving agricultural growth rates of 6 percent per year. 2003 – SADC countries reaffirm the AU Maputo Declaration commitments  and integrate them into a 15 year SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). SADC countries also agree complementary measures to address the challenges faced by women and smallholder farmers. 2014 – AU Malabo Declaration  renews the 10 percent spending commitments and extends the period for achieving them to 2025. 2015 – SADC countries reaffirm the AU Malabo Declaration  and extend the RISDP to a 2015–2020 plan.
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