Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
The Jesuits Justice and Ecology Network of Africa (JENA) together with Caritas Africa have called for integral ecology approach for sustainable food system among food producers, distributors and consumers on the African continent and beyond.
In a collective press release signed by the Director of Justice and Ecology Office for the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) Fr. Charles Chilufya, the two faith-based pan-African Catholic organizations express their resolve to raise awareness on how bringing about a sustainable food system for all requires an integral ecology approach where economic, social and environmental factors and justice are all considered.”
The communique released after a three-day international conference which took place in Nairobi from 22 – 24 June discloses that the two organizations aim to seize the current Covid-19 health crisis as an opportunity to respond to the food security needs affecting mostly the poor and vulnerable.
“The Covid-19 health crisis,” the communique highlighted, “has exacerbated the urgency to change the dominant globalized food system and has provided an opportunity for this issue to rise up in the public agenda.”
JENA and Caritas Africa noted that even though enough food is being produced to feed everyone on the planet, “More than half a billion people do not have access to healthy, nutritious and sufficient food (while) the dominant market-driven food system is not ensuring food security for all and the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed and strained this broken system even further, revealing its inequalities.”
According to the press release, the poor and the vulnerable are being “disproportionately impacted by the food chain shocks provoked by the global crisis, which hampers their ability to fully thrive, realize their human rights and contribute to a new horizon for humanity.” Besides, the food crisis has many facets, but at its core are structural inequities and the necessity to reimagine and create new models that leave no one behind.”
The three- day conference themed “Food Sovereignty in times of recovery: Building back better through mainstreaming social justice and leveraging on ecological agriculture,” also emphasized that the alliance will represent various groups of Jesuit and Caritas members, experts, the people they accompany and serve, and those they collaborate with to promote food sovereignty in Africa.
“The core purpose of this alliance is to generate knowledge to influence policy and practice around food systems, both local and international, and to promote African solutions for food sovereignty,” reads part of the communique.
“JENA and Caritas seek to identify effective and forward-looking approaches to guide the creation of an elaborate framework for collaboration, and to achieve resilient post-crisis food systems in which climate and disaster risk reduction and social justice are mainstreamed,” the communique continues.
Besides raising awareness on sustainable food system approaches, the two Catholic Organizations seek to respond and support Pope Francis’ call to prepare the future.
The alliance is a continent-wide platform for consolidation of issues pertaining to food sovereignty and marshalling out a single and louder voice by articulating clear and workable solutions.