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African Union: Time to scale up nutritional interventions

By Shane Starling , 23-Aug-2011
Last updated on 24-Aug-2011 at 11:59 GMT

Nutritional interventions need to be scaled up to tackle malnourishment and undernourishment that affects more than 200m Africans, the African Union (AU) has said.

The AU’s 10-year-old New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) said at a recent meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that local networks needed to be better utilised to deliver more potent nutritional interventions.

“If Africa does not invest in food and nutrition security, the consequences will be big,” said Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, senior Advisor for Food and Nutrition Security at the NEPAD Agency.

The call came ahead of the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day on October 30th, and emphasised four kinds of interventions:

  • dietary diversity
  • homegrown school feeding
  • maternal nutrition
  • child nutrition and food fortification

“…the time is ripe for scaling up proven interventions,” NEPAD said.

Therefore, one of the main goals and objectives of Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day is to ensure that information and knowledge is transmitted and communicated to all the different levels of consumers - policy makers, programme implementers and all the vulnerable households.”

“The opportunity for intra-African trade of agriculture food commodities that are of high value and nutritionally sound is immense. What needs to be done at the earliest opportunity is to apply some of the more relevant indigenous knowledge systems around the best nutrition, as has been done for generations.”

Changing the status quo

The group acknowledged the difficulty in implementing any programme that could deliver lasting results to the malnourished while emphasising the importance of linking elements of the supply chain.

“Given the challenges of poor research and policy translation into action and tangible results coupled by weak capacity in many member states and the evidently low investments in nutrition programmes, this can only lead to malnutrition,” NEPAD said.

“So, the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day provides an opportunity for changing the status quo and ensuring a robust accountability mechanism. The Day will showcase the potential for adequately linking agriculture and nutrition value chains.”

Africa’s traditional and indigenous nutritious food commodities needed to be recognised, greater funds invested in public nutrition education and successes needed to be shared and capitalised upon.

“While there may be challenges, there clearly are models to be learnt from and emulated. This will take a concerted effort across all Government sectors, Private sector, Civil Society Organisations, Development partners, Institutions of Higher Learning and the average African to commit and contribute towards delivering and attaining the best nutrition for all.”

Programmes would be developed by individual nations and via pan-African groups like NEPAD.

“This is the time for Africa, the energy is palpable, the momentum and support is promising, hence, let’s seize the day,” added Bibi Giyose.

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