6/15/2024
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Towards a Healthier Future: Somalia’s New Food Safety Policy
By Mohamed Omar Nur
Friday June 7, 2024


Food is a daily necessity. Each day, we eat and share meals with our family and friends. Food provides us many essential benefits: it alleviates hunger, provides nutrition, supports growth and facilitates cultural exchange and economic trade.

However, all these benefits depend on food safety. It’s not food if it’s not safe. Tragically, unsafe food leads to the loss of hundreds of lives annually.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that each year unsafe food causes about 600 million foodborne illnesses and more than 400,000 deaths globally. In 2019, a World Bank study also showed that health and economic burden of foodborne diseases is particularly acute in low-income countries, with Sub-Saharan Africa economies losing an estimated $110 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity.

For this reason, and to address the evolving trade requirements amid heightened consumer concern, governments around the world are now implementing modern food control systems and safety policies.

In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly established June 7 as the World Food Safety day to raise awareness and inspire action against foodborne risks.

This year, as we celebrate World Food Safety Day, Somalia stands at pivotal moment: we are on the verge of introducing the first-ever National Food Safety Policy.

This landmark policy will serve as the foundation for developing a modern, integrated, and science-based national food safety control system. Its implementation will improve public health, increase food security, and facilitate greater food trade and access to export markets.

The policy also supports the transformative shift championed by H.E. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre’s forthcoming National Transformation Plan, which aims to integrate Somalia more fully into the global economy.

Policy Focus Areas

The Somali Food Safety Policy has a threefold objective: (1) it aims to protect the health of the Somali people, (2) to promote safe food production and facilitate trade, and (3) to develop the capacity of all food safety stakeholders.

Given the adverse effects of climate change in Somalia, one other notable objectives of the policy is to increase the resilience of food producers and their livelihoods to droughts and other disasters.

To achieve these objectives, we recommend among other things a review of all existing food safety laws and the creation of a modern food safety control system. We’re also proposing the creation of a national food safety coordination agency, an early warning system for emerging food safety issues and a national “Farm-to-Table” traceability and recall system.

Food Safety is a Shared Responsibility

Informed by shared commitments to collaboration, as rooted in the Somalia One Health Strategic Plan, the development of the policy was characterized by a spirit of dialogue and close consultations with all key stakeholders. The process began with an in-depth situational analysis involving relevant ministries, agencies and food industry actors. Insights were also drawn from countries with similar contexts.

The primary draft of the Food Safety Policy was developed through the technical assistance and funding from World Bank supported Horn of Africa De-risking, Inclusion and Value Enhancement of Pastoral Economies in the Horn of Africa (DRIVE) project in Somalia

Moving forward, the Ministry of Livestock, Forestry and Range will continue to engage with policy makers at federal, state level, industry actors, researchers and everyone in the food chain in consultations to ensure the policy reflects diverse views and priorities.

As Somalia marks World Food Safety 2024 with this important momentum, we look forward to celebrating the next significant milestone: putting the policy into force. Achieving this goal will require the joint effort of all stakeholders, as food safety is inherently a shared responsibility and everyone’s business.

The writer is the Director General of the Ministry of Livestock, Forestry and Range (MoLFR) Email: [email protected] 




 





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