The global focus on the threats posed by climate change has drawn attention to the fact that water will be the medium through which many of its impacts will be felt. In addition to the direct impacts of damaging floods and interruptions to water supply due to drought, a particular concern in many regions is the threat to food security, driven by changing rainfall patterns and increased aridity.
While climate change is a long term threat, many African countries already confront immediate challenges in managing present climate variability, the droughts and floods that regularly cause social distress and undermine economic performance. This highlights the need to develop strategies that will address immediate challenges while building resilience to adapt to long term trends.
Although many local and national responses have been identified, there is also a potential in the inter-connected regions of southern and eastern Africa to develop regional approaches that would build creatively on the different circumstances of the countries concerned to strengthen food and water security in the face of climate challenges across the region. This was the focus of a workshop held in May 2011.
The workshop brought together policy and decision-makers with researchers and practitioners to address these issues with the aim of:
- Improving the understanding of the regional and inter-sectoral dimensions of food and water security;
- Identifying opportunities for regional and inter-sectoral strategies to better address the challenges faced by individual countries and sectors in contributing to food and water security;
- Highlighting areas in which further research and collaboration is required and building partnerships to take such work further; and
- Identifying immediate opportunities for development projects and programmes that would meet the common goals of the countries and their development partners.
Since the structure of the regions’ energy economies is linked to agriculture, water and climate in a variety of ways, relevant energy issues were also considered.
The workshop was hosted in Midrand, South Africa, by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in partnership with the Global Water Partnership (GWP), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and South Africa’s National Planning Commission (NPC) with the support of SADC, the EAC (East African Community) and the African Development Bank.