The 16th annual Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) subregional office for southern Africa ended today, asserting FAO's commitments to strengthen strategic partnerships for agrifood systems transformation. For three days, FAO representatives from the 15 countries in Southern Africa, technical officers and resource partners met in Harare, Zimbabwe physically, and virtually, deliberating under the theme"effective partnerships for accelerated agrifood systems transformation in southern Africa."
The 16thMDT meeting deliberated on FAO's corporate and regional initiatives, subregional priorities and flagship programmes while mapping how to foster effective partnerships for efficient and sustained delivery of programmes to achievebetter production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life – leaving no one behind.In the meeting were high-level representation from key partners such as SADC, COMESA, AUDA-NEPAD, and member states. Key personalities included, Abebe Haile-Gabriel, the Assistant Director-General (ADG) and FAO Regional Representative for Africa; Edward Kallon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe, and Honourable Dr Anxious Masuka, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, represented by the Honourable Davis Marapira, Deputy Minister.
The Honourable Minister acknowledged the importance of effective and strategic partnerships to collectively combat the challenges faced by the country and the region while the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator recognized FAO's role and contribution towards working as One UN.
"We had enriching discussions on the key theme of our MDT – effective partnerships. Partnerships with the private sector, partnerships with Regional Economic Communities and other regional bodies, partnerships with sister UN Agencies. The unmistakable message is that let us strengthen these partnerships, in the design and implementation of programmes for better delivery and let us celebrate the successes together as well," said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa in his closing remarks.
Reflections on progress against priorities set in 2021, provided an opportunity for the subregional office to measure, learn and improve on implementation of its priority programmes and partnerships strategy for accelerated agrifood systems transformation. The subregional office committed to mainstream the partnerships priorities and implementation plans into the new business model of working as one team, to deliver on FAO's Strategic Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022 – 2026. The meeting agreed on strengthening co-creation and co-ownership in development and implementation of priority programmes while responding to the needs of member states, regional economic communities as well as the private sector.
"Partnerships rely on trust, they depend a lot on trust and leadership. FAO is an asset to our stakeholders, the UN, the member states we serve and that demonstrates our value and the expectations our partners have on us. We cannot do it alone and we have to be the partner of choice," asserted ADG and FAO Regional Representative for Africa in his closing remarks while congratulating the team for organizing the successful MDT meeting.
Going forward, the subregional office for southern Africa will begin operationalizing the commitments and plans set in the MDT meeting. The ADG confirmed the commitment of the Regional Office for Africa to the subregion as the team unleashes the "partnerships in action" programmes in southern Africa.