Experts and policymakers in the food security sector on Friday urged East African countries to exert concerted efforts to harness the existing rich fisheries potential to improve food security across the region.
The urgent call was made by experts and policymakers in the food security sector, who are drawn from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries, during a regional meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Friday.
The Director of IGAD Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenea Kuma, stressed during the meeting the need to establish scientific studies, initiatives and recommendations regarding the effective exploitation of the “largely untapped” potential in the fisheries sector among the four IGAD member countries as well as other countries in the region.
Kuma also noted the vital significance of undertaking scientific studies on the sector, which would be made on the basis of “request and consent” of member countries that are sharing river basin resources.
The two-day regional meeting, which aimed to deliberate on the effective utilization and exploitation of the region’s potential in the fisheries sector, mainly envisaged to validate a regional baseline on three major trans-boundary river basins that are shared between Ethiopia and South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as Ethiopia and Somalia, respectively.
IGAD’s Head of Biodiversity Management Programme, Debalkew Berhe, also stressed the importance of knowledge-based exploitation as well as managing the existing abundant resources in the fisheries sector in the East African region, with particular emphasis given to fisheries along cross border areas.
“Considering the huge potential of fisheries along the cross border areas, knowledge-based utilization and management of sustaining of food safety standards of the products are of paramount importance,” the IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme Head said.
The three cross-border river basins that are currently under validation by the four IGAD member countries are the Baro-Akobo river basin that is shared between Ethiopia and South Sudan, the Omo-Turkana river basin, which is shared among Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as the Shebella-Genale river basin, shared between Ethiopia and Somalia, it was noted..
According to the East African bloc, IGAD, efficient utilization and exploitation of the three transboundary river basins would augment food security and livelihood status of communities of the arid and semi-arid riverbanks that the three rivers pass-through across the four involved countries.
The regional baseline report on the three cross-border rivers, once validated and put into force, is also said to provide “a clear framework for harnessing the fisheries potential and to foster sustainable utilization and exploitation of the fisheries for improved livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and incomes of members of the communities,” IGAD said in its baseline report.
The four involved IGAD member countries are also expected to review and validate the findings of the regional baseline report, with a view to integrate the report findings to their respective national fisheries development plans, it was noted.
According to IGAD, the regional initiative on the efficient utilization of fisheries, which was financed by the African Development Bank, would have “an important role towards creating a common understanding on the implementation modalities of a co-management plan.” Enditem