Harnessing innovative financing for nutrition in Africa

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 launch the African Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS) for the the period 2016 - 2025, an AU Roadmap to enhance and promote nutrition in Africa. The ARNS (2016 – 2025) 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 five 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.

*  Related:  SADC's Food and Nutrition Security Strategy 2015-2025 

*  Dispatch from #FFD3: Investing in rural people for inclusive and sustainable transformation (Brookings):   The State of Food Insecurity 2015 report shows that undernourishment in the developing world is falling by about one percentage point every three years. At this rate, in 2030 the world will still have 720 million undernourished people, or 7.9 percent of its population. This is business as usual. If we want to end hunger, we must bend this curve and scale up our interventions to achieve faster progress. If we define ending hunger as getting undernourishment to the levels of today’s rich countries (which are at or below 3 percent), then we have to double our rate of progress and reduce undernourishment by 2 percentage points every three years. If we want to define ending hunger more precisely around an agenda of “leave no one behind” by aiming for 0 percent undernourishment, we must triple our rate of progress and reduce undernourishment by almost 3 percentage points every three years. [Read more