Lilongwe, 17 April 2015. The Beating Famine Southern Africa Conference closed today in Lilongwe, Malawi. The international event, jointly organized by World Vision and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), set out a bold vision about how to achieve food security in southern Africa by sustainably managing and rehabilitating the land.
550 delegates from 35 countries and more than 100 organizations discussed and debated how to massively scale up techniques such as Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, Conservation Agriculture, holistic grazing among others.
The key outcomes of the conference include a focus on alignment with international aspirations and targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals and new climate agreement but with a unique Southern African voice. The participants stressed the need to roll out scientifically proven and grassroots solutions and put these within an enabling policy environment that draws on the strengths of Southern Africa’s vibrant youth and civil society movement.
The Conference, which was opened by Dr. Allan Chiyembezkeza, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Malawi, who noted the high rates of deforestation and land degradation in Malawi and across the Southern African Region. He sought to spread the word about sustainable land management practices that will help the global community but deliver tangible benefits for Southern Africa’s rural poor and smallholder farmers. He called for practical projects to overcome food and water shortages that are anticipated from climate change but that can also actively restore land, biological diversity, regenerate trees and increase yields.
The UNCCD Secretariat, one of the event’s sponsored, was represented by Ms Louise Baker and UNCCD Drylands Ambassador Dennis Garrity.
Dr Garrity gave the keynote address and set the stage highlighting the imperative of land rehabilitation in Southern Africa in the context of a degrading resource base and climatic change. He noted how important trees on farms and in landscapes could be if we want to harness the potential of Africa’s millions of smallholder famers, increase yields and provide truly sustainable development.
In her comments Ms. Baker noted that Mother Nature is increasingly recognized as a key component of any stable and secure food systems. She called on stakeholders in Southern Africa to actively engage in global political processes and to have a strong voice; to build up community and local level leadership; to address bottlenecks such as insecure tenure and rights, to improve access to financial services and to enhance the capacity of smallholders to implement appropriate knowledge and technology.
Delegates enjoyed a dynamic, practical debate. On the third day of the conference they visited a number of field sites at Kwindanguwo village and Kaungwe in Dowa district, Khanda village and Chiwamba in Lilongwe district to see and learn about the sustainable land management practices in action and delivering results in Malawi.
In the closing session, a Conference Declaration is expected to be adopted.
Detailed information, presentations and the Conference Declaration are available at beating famine: http://beatingfamine.com/