Covid-19 has amplified the need for SADC and its Member States to "build back better" through creating more resilient, inclusive and socially accountable nations and communities in the wake of disaster. The global economic downturn, the heavy burden of debt, the diversion of budgets and personnel to respond to the crisis, and the effect of the restrictions themselves have, however, affected the delivery of public services in many sectors, including health and agriculture. Corruption and misuse of public funds, as widely reported in the media, has also undermined the effectiveness of the Covid-19 response, and placed further pressure on existing services.
Even amid the pandemic, the international and regional agreements to which governments have committed remain in place, including those requiring long-term investment in universal, efficient, quality and gender-responsive public services. Covid-19 has exposed pre-existing gaps in the delivery of public services, particularly for the most marginalised, and demonstrated the importance of consistent and sufficientpublic investment and accountable governance of health services, domestic food security, and social protection systems. Women, who form the majority of small-scale food producers, have been at the forefront of the ongoing HIV pandemic, and theyhave again been called to the frontlines as caregivers and health workers, invariably shouldering the heaviest burden.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum, together with the Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance, through the project 'Strengthening Social Accountability and Oversight in Health and Agriculture in Southern Africa, has convened multiple engagements over the past four years. The PSA Alliance has presented during SADC PF sessions of the Standing Committees on Human and Social Development and Special Programmes (HSDSP) and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR); and members of these standing committees have also participated in project events.
In 2019, SADC PF and PSA Alliance co-hosted the project's Regional Budget Summit on Social Accountability in Health and Agriculture. During the meeting, the PSA Alliance reported on the results of ongoing social accountability monitoring of service delivery in the health and agriculture sectors, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for adolescents and agricultural services for smallholder farmers, across the four target countries - Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. The monitoring findings were discussed in light of continental commitments, such as the Malabo Declaration and Abuja Declaration, as well as SADC level strategies and policies. A communiqué was issued, calling for national and regional leaders to take action.
The upcoming SADC PF joint meeting, as outlined in this concept note, will focus on social accountability and oversight in the implementation of SADC regional commitments in health and agriculture. The meeting will assist SADC PF members of the Standing Committees on HSDSP, FANR and Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development (GEWAYD) to understand and assess social accountability in the context of regional agreements related to health and agriculture. Members will also identify and discuss the impact of social accountability challenges on the realisation of regional commitments, as well as reflect on possible parliamentary interventions.
2.0 Social accountability in the agricultural sector
The effects of climate change - persistent drought, flooding and pests - compounded by economic challenges, poverty, conflict and gaps in social accountability, have all contributed to the SADC region's food security crisis. Close to 44.8 million people in Southern Africa are estimated to be food insecure as of July 2020; representing a 67% increase from 2017 (26.9 million people) and a jump of 10% from 2019 (41.2 million people). Smallholderfarmers, who produce most of the region's food, have been impacted by the effects of Covid-19, including lower household incomes, limited access to inputs (seeds, fertilisers) and lack of extension services to combat the ongoing threat of pests and diseases. Food insecurity is expected to remain high until the start of the harvest in April 2021.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women supply about 50% of total agricultural labour, while also performing a disproportionateamount of unpaid domestic work including the care of children, the sick and older adults. The pandemic has affected multiple aspects of the lives of women smallholder farmers from undermining their food security and eroding their savings, to increasing their workload and heightening their risk of gender-based violence.
While continental and regional commitments promote support for smallholder farmers as a key strategy for achieving household food security, agricultural policymaking in the region (even before Covid-19) has failed to adequately respond to their needs. Large portions of national budgets are directed into farm input support programmes (FISPs) by providing subsidies that reduce the price of fertiliser and seed (usually hybrid maize). FISPs, however, have been widely criticised as top-down, ineffective social transfer schemes that create dependency, and enable significant loss of public funds through elite capture, leakage and diversion. Aside from providing a partial economic safety net, the subsidies have not directly benefited the poor and most vulnerable, primarily women. Instead, the FISPs encourage smallholder farmers to direct scarce resources towards hybrid maize production, effectively reducing the diversity of food available.
The Community on World Food Security (CFS) has urged support for agroecological systems for smallholder farmers, as opposed to high external input industrial systems, and has indicated these can be highly productive, highly sustainable, empower women, create jobs, engage youth, provide greater autonomy, climate resilience, and multiple social, cultural and environmental benefits for women and men in rural and urban communities. Sustainable support for smallholder farmers would ensure that public investment is channelled towards extension services that promote agroecology, build climate resilience, are gender-responsive, and farmer-led, all of which offer collective, long-term benefits.
Key continental and regional agreements, to be referenced during the meeting, are as follows:
Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods (Malabo Declaration) - During the 23rd AU Summit, African leaders committed to implementing policy reforms toward ending hunger and cutting poverty in Africa in half by 2025. They re-affirmed their intention to devote 10% of their national budgets to agricultural development and agreed to targets such as doubling agricultural productivity, halving post-harvest loss, and bringing stunting down to 10% across Africa. Todate, most of the SADC Member States have aligned their National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPSs) (first and second generations) to the Malabo Declaration to accelerate agricultural growth. However, as of the end of 2019, the SADC region was not on track to achieve Malabo commitments, according to the African Union Commission's 2020 Biennial Review Report.
SADC PF passed a motion in December 2018 urging SADC Member States to accelerate the implementation of the Malabo Declaration, with a focus on improving social accountability in agricultural services for smallholder farmers.
Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP) 2013; Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP) 2017-2022 -The RAP is an overarching policy framework for the Region's agriculture sector, approved by SADC Council in August 2014. The RAP defines objectives and measures to guide, promote and support actions at regional and national levels. The RAP is being implemented in five-year cycles through Regional Agricultural Investment Plans (RAIP), currently 2017-2022. A financial instrument-based implementation mechanism, the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), is intended to provide financial incentive support for the implementation of the national agricultural investment plans within the framework of the RAP and RAIP.
SADC Food and Nutrition Security Strategy (FNSS) 2015-2025 - Approved in 2014, the FNSS was developed to implement a wide range of SADC policies and programmes which aim to holistically address issues of food and nutrition security from a multi-sectoral perspective. More specifically, the FNSS implements the food and nutrition aspects of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), the SADC Health Policy Framework, Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth (OVCY) Strategy, the Maseru Declaration on HIV and AIDS, among others. The FNSS also takes into account the African Union's African Regional Nutrition Strategy (2005-2015).SADC intends to conduct a mid-term review of the FNSS in 2021.
SADC Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (CCSAP) and Strategy, 2015 - 2030 - The CCSAP was developed in 2014, seeking to provide a broad outline for harmonized and coordinated Regional and National actions to address and respond to the impacts of climate change. The Climate Change Strategy guides the implementation of the Climate Change Programme over fifteen years (2015 - 2030).
Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in the SADC region (Dar es Salaam Declaration) -The Dar es Salaam Declaration, signed in May 2004, commits Member States to promote agriculture as a pillar in national and regional development strategies and programmes through the development of short and long-term food security action plans.
3.0 Social accountability in the health sector
During Covid-19, the region's public health systems have been compromised as already meagre resources have been redirected to curbing the pandemic. The diversion of human resources, infrastructure and commodities has meant that basic services, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, have been scaled down and access by those who need them has been limited. An increase in teenage pregnancies during the pandemic also reflects a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services (SRH). The social impact of Covid-19 hasintensified gender-based violence (GBV), leading UNAIDS to label it a "shadow pandemic".
Even prior to Covid-19, poor resourcing and health system capacity challenges are a significant barrier to the realisation of sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) in the region. Inadequate resourcing and related broader health system challenges, as well as poor and unfriendly infrastructure limit access to quality SRH services. While many governments have translated regional agreements into national policies, the policies are poorly implemented. There is inadequate participation of adolescents and youth in the planning and budgeting process which limits the ability of governments to prioritise issues that affect them. Although governments allocate budget to health and SRHR to meet the needs of beneficiaries, there are limited accountability mechanisms and oversight institutions that can hold governments accountable to ensure that those budgets are fully funded and effectively managed. Such social accountability gaps result in poor service SRH services, particularly for adolescents and young people, contributing to high levels of teenage pregnancy, as well as transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Key continental and regional agreements, to be referenced during the meeting, are as follows:
Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases, 2001 (Abuja Declaration) -The Abuja Declaration, signed by African leaders during a summit in 2001, commits African governments to allocate at least 15 per cent of each country's annual budget to the improvement of the health sector. It also calls upon donor countries to help by assigning 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance. Other commitments in the declaration include ensuring the availability and of affordable drugs; exploring the potential of traditional medicines and traditional health practitioners; supporting the development of an affordable, accessible HIV vaccine; and scaling up the role of education and information in reducing HIV and AIDS.
Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the SADC Region (2019-2030) - The SRHR Strategy and its corresponding Scorecard to measure progress, was approved in November 2018. The strategy provides a framework for the Member States to fast-track a healthy sexual and reproductive life for the people in the region, and for all people to be able to exercise their rights. It is guided by four core strategies: i) innovative leadership that boldly accelerates the SRHR regional agenda; ii) alignment of Member States policy and legal frameworks with global and regional commitments, and international human rights standards; iii) universal health coverage and strengthened health systems in member states to incorporate the essential SRHR package; and iv) monitoring and evaluation for strengthened, evidence-based impact.
Maputo Plan of Action (2016-2030) - The MPoA (2016-2030) for the Operationalisation of the Sexual and. Reproductive Health and Rights Continental Policy Framework was developed through the African Union. The Continental Policy Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights was adoptedby the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Health in Gaborone, Botswana, in October 2005 and endorsed by AU Heads of State in January 2006. The revised MPoA (2016 - 2030) is an extension of the original MPoA running from 2007-2015. The MPoA (2016-2030) is focused on attainment of universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in Africa beyond 2015. The framework is premised on nine key pillars: political commitment, leadership and governance; health legislation; health financing/investments; health services strengthening/human resource development; partnerships and collaborations; information and education; accountability/monitoring and evaluation; investment in the vulnerable and marginalised populations and improved adolescent and youth SRHR.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - The SDGs are a clarion call and commitment by countries to address multiple human development challenges and increase agency in doing so. The 17 SDGs and expanded targets are all essential towards attainment of positive SRHR outcomes. The following SDGs are aligned to realization of SRHR: (i) SDG 3 - ensuring health lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; (ii) SDG 5 - ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all; (iii) SDG 16 promoting peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Country reporting and tracking of the SDGs provides a strategic entry point for holding governments to account for delivery of SRHR targets.
Agenda 2063 The Africa We Want -Agenda 2063 is a long term vision of a pan-African, integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena. Gender and access to health by women and girls, adolescents and young people features strongly within the agenda. Some of the key aspirations pertinent to the project goals are: i) African people have a high standard of living, and quality of life, sound health and well-being; and ii) all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination (social, economic, 9 political) against women and girls will be eliminated and the latter will fully enjoy all their human rights. All harmful social practices (especially female genital mutilation and child marriages) will be ended and barriers to quality health and education for women and girls eliminated.
4.0 What SADC PF and national parliaments can do
National parliaments play an important oversight role in ensuring national governments remain committed to critically interrogating the content of regional commitments, domesticating them appropriately within their national laws and policies, and implementing programmes in line with their objectives. Importantly, parliaments should also ensure governments are adequately tracking and reporting on progress against indicators, and adjusting their plans as necessary.
As amplified by the Covid-19 crisis, more than ever before, parliaments must use their constitutional mandates of lawmaking, oversight of public funds and representing the marginalized to ensure that governments effectively and accountably implement appropriate interventions to ensure food security and adequate health services.
It is in this context that the SADCPF Standing Committees on HSDSP, FANR and GEWAYD will hold a joint virtual meeting focused on social accountability and oversight in the implementation of SADC regional commitments in health and agriculture. The meeting will assist SADC PF members of the Standing Committees on HSDSP, FANR and GEWAYD to understand and assess social accountability in the context of regional agreements related to health and agriculture. Members will also identify and discuss the impact of social accountability opportunities and challenges on the realisation of regional commitments, as well as reflect on possible parliamentary interventions.
Following this joint meeting, SADC PF and PSA Alliance will coordinate will coordinate national-level parliamentary engagements, specifically in the five PSA Alliance target countries - Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The national level events will involve SADC PF members of the Standing Committees on HSDSP, FANR and GEWAYD from the focus country, as well as members from national portfolio committees. Parliamentarians, together with national representatives from the PSA Alliance, will assess national progress towards realisation of selected regional commitments on health and agriculture, discuss social accountability opportunities and challenges, as well as identify potential parliamentary interventions.
5.0 Objectives of the meeting
The meeting will specifically seek to achieve the following objectives:
1. Assess progress of SADC Member States towards the realisation of key regional commitments in health and agriculture - with a focus on the PSA Alliance's areas of work:
(a) Comprehensive, quality, non-judgmental and inclusive HIV and other SRH public services for adolescents and young people (with a focus on girls); and
(b) Climate-resilient and gender-responsive agricultural public services (including input and extension) which benefit smallholder farmers through promoting agroecology and community-based seed systems.
2. Identify and discuss opportunities and challenges in social accountability, from a regional perspective, that impact the realisation of selected SADC commitments on health and agriculture, also considering the current context of the Covid-19 crisis.
3. Reflect on parliamentary interventions that could enhance social accountability in the health and agricultural sectors in SADC.
6.0 Participants and resource persons
The Session will be attended by members of the SADC PF Standing Committees on HSDSP, FANR and GEWAYD and will also be attended by PSA Alliance stakeholders from civil society and technical partners.
A panel of experienced resource persons will make presentations which will be followed by an interactive session focusing on possible policy interventions that could be made by SADC PF and national parliaments.
7.0 Venue and date
The virtual meeting will take place on Monday 17 May 2021, between 09:30 - 12:00 and14:00 - 16:30.
PROGRAMME FOR THE JOINT VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE SADC PF STANDING COMMITTEES ON FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES, HUMAN AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND SPECIAL PROGRAMMES, GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN ADVANCEMENT AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
MONDAY, 17TH MAY, 2021
Topic / Speakers
09:30 - 09:45
Welcome, Introductions and Review of Programme
09:45 - 10:00
Remarks by SADC PF
10:00 - 10:30
PSA Alliance - Strengthening Social Accountability in the SADC Region
Background on the PSA Alliance and Progress on the 2019 Regional Budget Summit Communiqué - Julie Middleton, Consortium Project Manager, PSA Alliance [15 min]
Q & A - 15 min
10:30 - 12:00
Social Accountability and SADC Regional Commitments
PSAM - Understanding social accountability in the context of SADC commitments [15 min]
SAfAIDS - Interrogating SADC commitments on SRHR for adolescents and young people [15 min]
ESAFF - Interrogating SADC commitments on agriculture and food security [15 min]
Questions/Comments [45 min]
12:00 - 14:00
14:00 - 15:30
Parallel Thematic Sessions
Implications of Social Accountability Challenges in Service Delivery for the Realisation of SADC Regional Commitments - a focus on food security and agricultural services for smallholder farmers
Presentation on social accountability gaps in agricultural services & suggested parliamentary actions - ESAFF[15 min]
Questions & discussion [45min]
Implications of Social Accountability Challenges in Service Delivery for the Realisation of SADC Regional Commitments - a focus on SRHR for adolescents and young people
Presentation on social accountability gaps in SRH services & suggested parliamentary actions - SAfAIDS[15 min]
Questions & discussion [45min]
15:30 - 16:20
Role of Parliaments
What can national parliaments do to ensure oversight of implementation of regional agreements? What will the individual members represented do? Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) [10 min]
Discussion [30 min]
16:20 - 16:30
Closing remarks by SADC PF
Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods (2014); Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (2001).
African Union Commission , (2020), Biennial Review Report of the African Union Commission on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/38119-doc-2019_biennial_review-en.pdf ; African Union Commission, (2018), Inaugural Biennial Review Report of the African Union Commission on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared prosperity and Improved Livelihoods . https://www.resakss.org/node/6501 ; WHO, (2016), Public financing for health in Africa: from Abuja to the SDGs. https://www.who.int/health_financing/documents/public-financing-africa/en/ ; UNAIDS, (2013), Abuja + 12: Shaping the Future of Health in Africa. http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/JC2524_Abuja_report_en_0.pdf ;
SADC RVAA - SADC Secretariat, (2020), 2020 SADC Synthesis Report on the state of food and nutrition security and vulnerability in Southern Africa . https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Synthesis_Report_2020_-ENGLISH.pdf ; ActionAid, (2020), Southern Africa on the Brink of Famine. https://actionaid.org/publications/2020/southern-africa-brink-famine
FEWS.NET, (2020),Key Message Update - Southern Africa. January 2021. https://fews.net/southern-africa
FAO SOFA Team & Cheryl Doss, (2011). The Role of Women in Agriculture' ESA Working Paper No. 11-02, FAO. http://www.fao.org/sustainable-food-value-chains/library/details/en/c/265584/ ; FAO, (2011), 2010-2011 The State of Food and Agriculture. Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development . http://www.fao.org/publications/sofa/2010-11/en/
ActionAid, (2020), Covid-19 Food Crisis: Monitoring research. https://actionaid.org/publications/2020/covid-19-food-crisis-monitoring-research
Farm Input Subsidy Programmes (FISPs): A Benefit for, or the Betrayal of, SADC's Small-Scale Farmers?; African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), 2016.
CFS, (2019), CFS Policy Recommendations on Agroecological and Other Innovative Approaches for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems that Enhance Food Security and Nutrition - Draft One. http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/cfs/Docs1920/Agroecology_an_other_innovative/23_July_2020/1CFS_Agroecological_innovative_approaches.pdf ;Agroecology: Scaling Up, Scaling Out. ActionAid International. April 2018.
FISP Pamphlet . African Centre for Biodiversity. 2018.
African Union Commission, (2020), Biennial Review Report of the African Union Commission on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. https://au.int/sites/default/files/documents/38119-doc-2019_biennial_review-en.pdf
ActionAid, (2021), Advancing the Rights of Women Smallholder Farmers - Lessons from Covid-19. Unpublished (to be published in May 2021).
'GBV- Crisis within a Pandemic'. Daily News. 3 May 2020. https://dailynews.co.zw/gbv-crisis-within-pandemic/ ; The Shadow Pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19 . UNWOMEN. https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/in-focus-gender-equality-in-covid-19-response/violence-against-women-during-covid-19
SADC. Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health in the SADC Region 2019-2030. DRAFT for Feedback .