Southern African Food Systems

Ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) this September, several independent regional dialogues have been taking place to better understand the context around regional food systems.

On 13 April 2021, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), together with GRP and other partners, held a UNFSS-affiliated Independent Dialogue titled, Managing the water and energy we eat: advancing water-energy-food (WEF) nexus approaches to achieve food systems transformation in Southern Africa.

The Southern African Dialogue looked at ways to unpack how food systems can be localized and transformed in a water-constrained region that acknowledges water, energy and food (WEF) nexus linkages, promotes regional trade, and enhances equity and inclusion.

The Dialogue highlighted the need for financing models to better support food and water security. Participants also flagged the benefit of greater institutional coordination, specifically reconciling donor interests with nation state and institutional interests.

There were also six themes discussed in more detail:

  • Moving towards low carbon energy for food production.
  • Climate change impacts on water and food security.
  • Policy coherence and institutional coordination in water, food, energy and climate change that operationalize the WEF nexus.
  • Advancing technical WEF models, tools and frameworks for decision making at multiple scales.
  • Putting nature back in the WEF nexus: towards resilient food landscapes.
  •  Community approaches to operationalize the WEF nexus.

The Dialogue featured contributions from a range of organizations, agencies, and institutes active in the southern African region, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), and the Water Research Commission.

Conclusions from this event fed into the Global Dialogue ‘Water: the game changer for food systems’ on 27 April, and ultimately to the UN Food Systems Summit in September.

SARA at the Southern African Dialogue

GRP helped organise and convene the Southern African Dialogue, specifically through the Southern African Resilience Academy (SARA). SARA is one branch of GRP’s South to South Resilience Academy, which is an initiative that supports cutting edge Southern-based collaborations that work towards solving the most intractable resilience challenges.

Maike Hamann, GRP Researcher and co-curator of the Dialogue, explained that SARA will build on the conversations started at the Dialogue and further explore food systems in southern Africa.

“The UNFSS Dialogue acts as a springboard for SARA activities this year. Building on the conversations started at the Dialogue, we will be convening at least two more workshops as part of SARA, to further explore issues around resilient food systems and the future of food in southern Africa,” Hamann explains.

The two SARA follow-up events this year will take place in late July, and in October. Contact Maike if you are interested in learning more about the SARA events.