Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, HE Sidie Mohamed Tunis
By Abdul Malik Bangura
Speaker of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis Monday called on regional lawmakers to prioritize advocacy on the protection of the right to food.
Hon. Tunis said this while chairing a high-level meeting with West and Central African parliamentarians on mobilizing the lawmakers to keep nutrition as a Priority during COVID 19 pandemic.
In his address, he said, “this meeting is very timely as early indications coming from the research show that COVID 19 is likely to affect food security and nutrition as movements of farmers are being restricted thus disrupting the chain of production, processing and food supply.” He said as Members of Parliaments (MPs), they must be seen to vigorously working with their respective governments and non-governmental organizations in that regard.
He disclosed that some of the parliaments in the West African region, including Sierra Leone, have established the Parliamentary Alliance On Food Security And Nutrition, engaging stakeholders in several capacity building training workshops and activities on right to food and legislative approaches to improving nutrition among others.
On the epidemiological situation and the easing of preventive measures, Dr Namoudou Keita, a representative of the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) confirmed that there is 92.7% recovery rate of COVID 19 cases in West Africa. He said out of 187,483 confirmed cases in the region, ECOWAS region has 173,818 recoveries, with 2,739 deaths.
Mohamed Diop, Regional Representative Action Against Hunger West and Central Africa said the success of Africa as a whole in fighting COVID 19 shows that Africans are resilient people. He said, “all of our success comes from the fact that we have expertise in fighting diseases.”
He, however, said that we are fraught with situations of malnutrition, which might affect the socio-economic development, and growth of our countries. He said the goal of the workshop is to further mobilize MPs in their efforts on food sufficiency and security during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Other deliberations were held during the meeting, including a session on the situation of COVID 19, impact and resilience of West and Central Africa communities; the Role and Responsibilities of Parliamentarians and their Innovative Initiatives Supporting National Responses.
In his closing remarks, Hon. Tunis advised all MPs to work on achieving points made in the declaration. He said his office is always open to assist with whatever is required of him to ensure that malnutrition is curtailed in the region.
The virtual meeting between West and Central Africa parliamentarians on mobilizing parliamentarians and keeping nutrition as a Priority during COVID 19 was conveyed by Action Against Hunger, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and a host of other international NGOs. It drew MPs and representatives from nine (9) countries in West and Central Africa.