comesa_logoBULAWAYO - The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Centre have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to accelerate the improvement Zimbabweans standard of living.

The MOU was signed by Secretary General of COMESA, Sindiso Ngwenya, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, on behalf of the MDG Centre. According to the latest COMESA bulletin, the MoU is aimed at offering the region the policy, technical and scientific support to attain the MDGs, with a special focus on food security, climate change and business development.Some of the key areas that the partnership will focus on are the initiative for sustainable dry lands, aiming to involve various strategic collaborators in the region.

Our collaboration with the MDG Centre represents a unique opportunity to demonstrate that strategic partnerships can make a change in the lives of the marginalized people and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said. Ngwenya said the partnership with the MDG Centre would focus on ensuring that the trading bloc reviews its past interventions by various stakeholders in the dry lands in order to have a clear handle on what works and what does not work. We will focus strongly on improving local natural resources management and governance systems, conflict resolution and management methodologies incorporating traditional and modern conflict resolution and management systems, said Ngwenya.

He noted that climate change introduced an additional uncertainty into managing natural resources and promoting sustainable land use management. Prof. Sachs said: The new Dry lands initiative addresses one of the most important and crisis-ridden parts of the world. All through the dry lands of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, there is an urgent need to scale up the investment in sustainable development. Water stress, animal diseases, extreme poverty, and lack of infrastructure deprive vast populations of basic needs and provoke massive humanitarian and security crises. These are solvable problems, but they require a massive scaling up of science-based action at the regional, trans-national scale.

Prof. Sachs emphasized the need for a practical approach to solving the dry land countries problems focusing on agriculture, pastoral farming, health, environmental management, business management, infrastructure and gender among others. He noted that such an approach needed an initiative that would incorporate integrated concepts such as clear budgets with clear timetables coupled with strong accountability, and technology.

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