The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on July 10 launched a new Online Vulnerability Atlas designed to store and share data relating to food, nutrition and livelihoods security from the bloc’s 16 members.
The Online Atlas, developed by the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme, aims to provide easy access to quality vulnerability assessments and analysis to inform evidence-based policymaking and programming.
The SADC Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa (December 2020) projected a rise from 41million (2019/20) to 51.3 million food insecure people in both urban and rural areas at peak lean season.
Latest figures are expected to be published end of July following the just ended 2021 Annual Dissemination Forum. These numbers are likely to increase with the extended impacts of COVID-19 that has worsened the situation that has been predominantly caused by climate shocks (drought, floods and storms), climate stressors (land degradation, pests and diseases) and economic shocks.
“The high levels of vulnerabilities that characterise the SADC region highlight the critical need for generating and providing decision makers with credible information to facilitate informed decisions to address emergency food and nutrition insecurity and development planning,” said Director for Food Agriculture and Natural Resources, Domingos Zefanias Gove, while officially launching the Online Vulnerability Atlas.
Deputy regional director of the World Food Programme (Southern Africa), Margaret Malu, said “the Online Atlas comes at a critical time when there is increasing complexity and demand of food and nutrition insecurity information to inform responses. In essence, the Online Atlas will deal with the mounting food security challenges by providing credible and comparable trend data on food and nutrition security”.
The launch of the Online Vulnerability Atlas marks a key milestone since the RVAA project’s evolution from 2005. Over the years the programme has generated a wealth of data and information on food, nutrition, and livelihoods security from SADC member states. However, that data was shared and stored using unreliable tools which could easily be corrupted or misplaced.
“The idea of an Online Atlas came out of the need to respond to the strategic need to consolidate the gains of the RVAA Programme and add-value by making food and nutrition security information generated by 16 Member States easily accessible to a wide range of users working to improve the well-being of people in the SADC region”, said Andrew Odero, Head of Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (RVAA Technical Support Team).
The Online Atlas runs from a server hosted at the SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana. It is freely accessible from any location in the world where there is Internet connectivity.
Users can find data, analyse trends across space and time, compare food security behaviour between and amongst different countries in the region and generate maps. To ensure sustainability of the system, measures which include a service agreement with the Atlas developers and training (skills transfer) of the Secretariat IT personnel to ensure they have the capacity to maintain both the server and the Online Vulnerability Atlas.
The RVAA Programme developed the Online Atlas with technical support from the WFP and financial support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation. – SADC
To SADC Online Vulnerability Atlas can be accessed at https://rvaaatlas.sadc.int/