Meeting virtually on 29 and 30 June, organisations from across Southern Africa called upon governments to actively consult and include their people in the roll-out of SADC’s 10-year strategy, to ensure it improves the lives of the most vulnerable amid the multiple crises of COVID-19, climate change, poverty, unemployment and inequality facing the region.

The dialogue, held under the theme Building Back Better – Ensuring Social Accountability in Southern Africa’s Development, saw non-state actors (NSAs) – representing civil society, business, youth, media, smallholder farmers, informal traders, trade unions, people’s movements and faith-based organisations – interrogate the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) draft implementation plan for the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, due to be approved before the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in August 2021.

SADC Secretariat and national government officials, during the dialogue, encouraged NSAs to actively participate in national efforts to define and roll-out the regional plan and to hold them accountable in meeting its ambitious goals. Based on the discussions, involving 250 people from 13 of SADC’s 16 countries, the 10-co-conveners issued a final communiqué that urges governments to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable towards creating even more resilient, inclusive and just nations and communities.

Specific recommendations focus on promoting sustainable agriculture to adapt to climate change, expanding the participation of youth and civil society, preventing gender-based violence, ensuring inclusive labour and trade policies, increasing access to quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, and promoting social accountability systems that enhance the effective management of public resources, as well as ensuring equitable and timely provision of Covid-19 vaccines.

RISDP 2021 Concept Notes

Watch the dialogue sessions

Opening Session of Day 1

Over 250 people joined the dialogue, representing various non-state actors, including civil society organisations  smallholder farmers’ associations, workers’ organisations, trade unions, youth organisations, people’s movements, faith-based organisations, private sector associations and chambers of commerce and media outlets, as well as SADC Secretariat, SADC National Committees and national government officials, including SADC National Contact Points.

Watch the opening address with key note addresses from the CEO of Southern Africa Trust, the Chair of the SADC Council of Ministers and the Directorate of Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilization, SADC Secretariat.

Opening Session of Day 2

Over 250 people joined the dialogue, representing various non-state actors, including civil society organisations  smallholder farmers’ associations, workers’ organisations, trade unions, youth organisations, people’s movements, faith-based organisations, private sector associations and chambers of commerce and media outlets, as well as SADC Secretariat, SADC National Committees and national government officials, including SADC National Contact Points.

What is going to be done differently to effectively implement SADC’s Simplified Trade Regime in support of small-scale traders 

With high unemployment in the region, cross-border trade as an economic activity is one of the main sources of income for many of the poor and vulnerable citizens in Southern Africa. The session will focus on unpacking some of the challenges and trade barriers facing cross-border traders. How has the Covid-19 pandemic enhanced these barriers? How can existing and new policy frameworks such as the SADC Simplified Trade Regime, COMESA Simplified Trade Regime address these challenges in the changing environment?

This session is hosted by Southern Africa Trust and Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association.

Vaccine access, equity and challenges in Africa

The session will be an open space for an interactive discussion to interrogate Africa’s ability to acquire vaccines, with a focus on issues of access and equity. Secondly, we will discuss the TRIPS waiver and its implication for the continent. We will also reflect on vaccine hesitancy and its implications for the administration of the vaccine roll-out. it is essential for advocates now more than ever to equip themselves with tools, knowledge and evidence to counter the dangerous, uninformed and irresponsible messages that put us all at risk. Additionally, the session will discuss the Peoples Vaccine Alliance – Africa chapter and will seek to mobilise a pool of resources and expertise to join the campaign.

How can SADC ensure resilient and sustainable agricultural development through supporting smallholder farmers?

In recent years, SADC has faced worsening famine and food insecurity. By April 2021, the region had 50.8 million food insecure people which can be attributed to climate change, inadequate funding and the lack of participation of smallholder farmers in policy and budget processes, at all levels.  The new SADC RISDP 2020-2030, which elevates the agriculture sector to its first pillar, boasts plans for the introduction of creative financial mechanisms, an enhanced regional agricultural development advisory and extension strategy, and the development and strengthening of rural agriculture production clusters, among other goals. Will these be enough to support smallholder farmers in SADC to ensure resilience and sustainable agriculture development?

Implementing the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in the times of COVID-19

The gendered nature and impact of Covid-19 has increased the vulnerability of women and girls and exacerbated gender-based violence (GBV). According to an UNFPA report, “The pandemic and measures put in place by governments to halt its spread have impacted women, men, girls and boys differently in the region. For instance, we have seen a significant increase in reports of gender-based violence, giving rise to the GBV ‘shadow pandemic’, while anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of child marriages and other harmful practices against girls, as well as teen pregnancies, has risen”.

How can SADC countries ensure reliable domestic resourcing of comprehensive healthcare services?

SADC recognizes that social and human capital is crucial for development and integration. The RISDP 2020-30 agenda aims to develop modern and well-resourced health systems that are accessible and responsive in addressing the burden of disease and emergencies. Meeting the targets requires significant investment in health and therefore the need to identify long-term sustainable financing mechanisms to address the health challenges in the region. It is important for governments to rethink sustainable health financing, particularly for HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health towards the SADC RISDP targets. With targets set in the Abuja Declaration not being achieved in the region, a critical conversation is necessary on how we can establish reliable domestic resourcing mechanisms for better HIV/AIDS & SRH outcomes.

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