“President Hakainde Hichilema Calls for Regional Cooperation Against Food Shortages”
Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema, is urging neighboring countries to join forces in dealing with food shortages in the region. The region is facing challenges due to climate-related issues and conflicts in nearby nations.
In a meeting with Menghestab Haile, the Director of the World Food Programme for the Southern Africa Development Community Region (SADC), President Hichilema expressed concerns about food security in the region. He emphasized the impact of extended droughts, sudden floods, and the looming El Niño, all of which negatively affect food production, as was seen last year.
The President also stressed the importance of addressing the instability in Eastern Congo, which remains a top priority for the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense, and Security. He highlighted that the unrest in Eastern Congo has far-reaching consequences for the development of neighboring nations, affecting vulnerable groups such as children, women, and the elderly who are displaced and deprived of access to food.
In response, SADC has decided to establish a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to work on stabilizing the country and providing humanitarian aid to those in need.
While Zambia has enough food for its own people, President Hichilema acknowledged the pressure caused by neighboring countries facing food shortages, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, the East African corridor, and Malawi. This increased demand has led to higher food prices in Zambia.
President Hichilema is determined to enhance agricultural productivity for both domestic use and exports beyond the region. He has asked the World Food Programme for guidance in developing strategies to mitigate the effects of the expected El Niño in the region.
Zambia has favorable conditions for various crops, but the President emphasizes the need to fully utilize this potential and incorporate technology into agriculture.
Menghestab Haile, the World Food Programme Director, called on SADC leaders, with Zambia currently chairing the SADC Troika on Politics, Defense, and Security, to take a central role in addressing the crisis in Eastern Congo. He highlighted the humanitarian situation, with a significant number of people displaced and many women experiencing sexual violence daily. He stressed the urgency for governments to allocate resources to address these issues.
Mr. Haile commended the Zambian government for its governance and leadership, describing Zambia as one of the two SADC member states offering hope for positive change in the region. He emphasized Zambia’s role in tackling food insecurity and the need for SADC leaders to prepare for the anticipated El Niño by securing necessary resources.
In addition to discussing food security and regional challenges, President Hichilema appointed and swore in new officials for the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The President encouraged these newly appointed officials to prioritize public service and work on economic diplomacy and addressing drug availability challenges in health facilities. He stressed the importance of upholding ethical standards in their roles.