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Leaders Call For Increased Investment In Nutrition As Key To Africa’s Development

Addis Ababa – The African Union Commission in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), held a high level advocacy side event to advocate for increased investment in nutrition in order to “end all forms of malnutrition” as articulated in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event was held on the margins of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which aimed at securing appropriate global action for implementing the SDGs.

The occasion was also used to commission the report of the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study from the second phase countries – Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda - as well as to launch the African Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS) for the period 2016 – 2025.

The results of the COHA study, a continental initiative led by the African Union Commission with the support of ECA and WFP, proclaimed that African countries are losing the equivalent of between 1.9% to 16.5% of their Gross Domestic Products annually, as a result of child undernutrition. In addion, the study highlighted the potential economic savings to be made if governments take decisive actions to accelerate the reduction of undernutrition. The results revealed that a total economic savings of between US$ 1.5 billion to US$ 12.5 billion can be made by 2025, if governemnts commit to achieving the Malabo declaration on nutrition which calls for the reduction of stunting to 10 % and underweight children to 5%.  

The ARNS (2016 – 2025), an AU Roadmap to enhance and promote nutrition in Africa, incorporates emerging nutrition concerns and sets clear targets, which includes the attainment of a 40%reduction in stunting and a 5% reduction in wasting among children under 5 years by 2025.

Delivering the keynote statement, the African Nutrition Champion, His Majesty King Letsie III, observed that Africa is the only region in the world where the number of stunted children has increased over the past 20 years, hence, providing the urgent need for increasing resources to improve nutrition as a vital ingredient to social development.

He expressed concern for the lack of solid financing mechanism, especially, procedures to harness domestic resources in support of nutrition initiatives on the continent. His Majesty King Letsie III further urged African policy makers and stakeholders to increase investments in nutrition, whilst ensuring the implementation of viable financing mechanisms to support nutrition initiatives as priority for the continent’s socio-economic development.
His Majesty applauded the desicion to align the strategy with the African Union Agenda 2063, which is the guiding principle for the continent’s development over the next fifty years.

Speaking on the theme of the event, “Harnessing Innovative Financing for Nutrition in Africa”, representatives from the ECA, WFP, UNICEF and the Government of Mali, while acknowledging gains made in the increase in budget allocation to nutrition security in Africa, accentuated the need to attain nutrition security, describing investment in nutrition as an important milestone in the development of the continent.

They further underscored the need for these investments to be combined with efforts across cross-cutting sectors, such as, economic empowerment of women and young people, education, health as well as water, sanitation and hygiene, all geared towards improving maternal and child nutrition.

The panelists also called for redoubling of global efforts to tackle under nutrition, especially, in Africa, and for mobilising of additional resources by stimulating public-private partnerships to invest in nutrition interventions.

For further information contact:

Dr. Akoto Osei, African Union Commission, Mobile +251-911-505-515; OseiA@africa-union.org;
Mr. Wurie Bah, African Union Commission; Mobile+251-912-621-689; bahw@africa-union.org
Ms. Sophia Denekew, Economic Commission for Africa; +251-911-197-696; denekews@uneca.org;
Ms. Ella Getahun, World Food Programme, Mobile + 251-935-403-125; ella.getahun@wfp.org;
Mr. Anthony Mwangi, UNICEF Liaison Office to the AU and UNECA, Mobile +251-911-513-058;amwangi@unicef.org;