Initiative for high-level political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa launched
The African Leaders for Nutrition initiative, housed at the African Development Bank, has been honoured by the African Union for progress made toward advancing investments in nutrition across the continent.
At the conclusion of the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly on Sunday, an African Union summary decision commended “the African Leaders for Nutrition initiative in sustaining nutrition advocacy in the effort to ensure member states commit adequate financial resources to nutrition interventions.”
The African Leaders for Nutrition initiative is a platform for high-level political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa, led by current and former heads of state, finance ministers and eminent leaders. The decision comes as the Assembly Session declared 2022 the “African Union Year of Nutrition,” and as Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina stressed the importance of advancing nutrition during his address to assembled heads of state.
“The recognition of the African Leaders for Nutrition’s efforts comes as the initiative leverages visibility the African Union Year of Nutrition declaration brings to the fight to end malnutrition and increase food security in Africa,” said Bank Vice President Dr Beth Dunford, who led a delegation from the Bank’s Agriculture, Human and Social Development Complex to the Assembly, held in Addis Ababa on 5 and 6 February.
African Leaders for Nutrition is advocating three goals for the Year of Nutrition, starting with securing investments to implement a nutrition action plan that reduces malnutrition across the continent. The second goal is to identify cost-effective interventions worth implementing. The third is to promote accountability as African Union member states aim to meet World Health Assembly and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal nutrition targets.
The African Union Year of Nutrition theme focuses on strengthening the continent’s nutritional resilience and food security and will aim to strengthen core systems such as the agri-food, health, and social protection systems, as well as aim to accelerate human, social, and economic capital development in Africa.
The African Leaders for Nutrition will support the African Union Commission and the government of Cote d’Ivoire to bring the initiative’s “nutrition champions” together to devise strategies to ensure proper implementation of the declaration. The initiative will also support the African Union Commission on advocacy with African leaders to increase investment in carefully targeted interventions and help track progress with implementation. The initiative also plans to convene high-level consultative meetings with African country stakeholders about unlocking additional resources for investing in nutrition. African Leaders for Nutrition is also scheduled to endorse a mid-year review that will quantify progress in addressing the African Union Year of Nutrition declaration.
Dr Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the African Development Bank, speaking on the sidelines of the 35th African Union Assembly said: “Advancing nutrition is weaved into the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy, extending across numerous Bank programs, such as our Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation flagship that is delivering climate-adapted technologies to millions of African smallholder farmers, helping them produce more – and more nutritious – food.”
An estimated 61.4 million children aged under five years in Africa are stunted, while 12.1 million are wasted, and 10.6 million children are overweight.
The African Union Year of Nutrition runs from February until the next annual Assembly.