Global Panel Team touches down in Malawi 

An Update as the Global Panel Team Touches Down in Malawi 

We are pleased to share an update on the progress of the Global Panel’s project focusing on the resilience of food systems in low- and middle-income African countries (LMICs). This initiative, funded by Irish Aid, aims to deliver its comprehensive report by the end of 2024. It will focus particularly on Ethiopia, Malawi, and Sierra Leone, but it will likely have important messages for other African countries and international policymakers. 

The driving force behind this project is the escalating threats to food systems in Africa due to climate change and environmental degradation, conflict, increasing indebtedness, pests and diseases. All of these are impacting African countries as they strive to meet the goal of secure access to sustainable, healthy diets for all of their populations.  

The inadequate resilience of today’s food systems has implications far beyond hunger and nutrition. Successive crises now threaten to derail efforts to transform food systems to deliver universal access to secure, healthy, affordable, and sustainable diets. Such diets are essential for achieving many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those related to physical health, cognitive development, poverty, equity, climate change, and environmental degradation. 

The current project seeks to address these issues, taking a ‘deep dive’ into the resilience of the three countries (Ethiopia, Malawi, and Sierra Leone) to help empower and enable them to develop a pragmatic new vision for food system resilience, focusing on what it needs to deliver and how that might best be achieved. 

The project is spearheaded by the Lead Expert Group (LEG), under the leadership of Professor Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph. The LEG comprises eminent experts and policymakers from the three focus countries, complemented by international specialists. The involvement of government officials in this group is crucial – to ensure that the recommendations are pragmatic, garner widespread governmental support, and are poised for immediate implementation upon completion of the project. 

Since its inception in January 2024, the LEG has developed a robust framework for evaluating the resilience of food system transformation – a framework with much wider applicability. Utilising this resilience framework, country-specific teams have crafted and are now executing detailed work plans. These efforts will culminate in a set of tailored recommendations for each country, as well as other relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors. 

The team visits Sierra Leone and Malawi 

The fourth meeting of the LEG was recently held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, kindly hosted by the President’s Office. This gathering was an opportunity for members to explore in-depth, the policy landscape and the challenges confronting food system transformation in Sierra Leone. It also facilitated engagements with a diverse array of stakeholders. The visit was also an important opportunity to engage with many senior government officials. We were delighted to have productive discussions with the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Hon. Henry Musa Kpaka, and the Chief Minister, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh. These were used to explore new avenues to strengthen resilience in food systems within the framework of the Government’s flagship Feed Salone strategy and The Global Panel’s initiatives. 

At the time of writing, the project team is touching down in Malawi for a series of meetings – building on the success of the Sierra Leone meetings.  This visit will be an opportunity to hold the seventh meeting of the Lead Expert Group (LEG). Discussions will also be held with key decision-makers in government, the private sector, and non-government and civil organizations. A high-level stakeholder consultation meeting will bring together a wide range of interests to explore their very different interests and perspectives on the topic of food-system resilience. And this will be supplemented by a series of bilateral discussions. The focus will be on how the project, and the Global Panel, can use food system transformation as a vehicle to deliver multiple policy priorities – notably in agriculture, nutrition, health, the environment, climate resilience, innovation, employment, and the empowerment of women and youth.