Africa was making significant progress in reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, but due to COVID-19, this progress has recently stalled, and in a few cases reversed, said a new report by the Malabo Montpellier Panel that called on governments to reorient African food systems.
The report titled “Connecting the Dots: Policy Innovations for Food Systems Transformation in Africa” states that the next level of policy-making will need a more holistic as well as nuanced approach that operates within the inter-linkages of policy domains such as farming, education, health and environment. The report goes on to furnish concrete evidence on the vital role played by food systems in reducing poverty levels and improving livelihoods in Africa, particularly in rural areas.
From the experience of four countries – Malawi, Ghana, Morocco and Rwanda – the report presents five recommendations in order to resume momentum towards reducing hunger and malnutrition levels:
· Ensure multi-sectoral coordination across government departments in order to reflect the interlinkage of food systems transformation.
· Facilitate evidence-based and guided experimentation and innovation of policies and accelerated science capacity for technical solutions supporting broad food systems change.
· Institutionalize monitoring, evaluation and learning for impactful planning and implementation
· Integrate food systems transformation into long-term national growth agendas.
· Enhance CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) indicators to reflect the complexity of food systems
As policymakers look to the future, key lessons must be drawn from the experience of the last few years, said the report. Governments must reorient future trajectories so as to “build back better” and plan for beyond 2030.
Given the inherent complexity of food systems, policy approaches are more likely to be effective if they move beyond agriculture and food production where it trade-offs can be better managed and synergies could be leveraged.