“The aim is to develop a five year joint program which fully integrates nutrition security into the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP),” the groups said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed.
GAIN, interim manager of communications, Frédérique Tissandier, said no details of the programme could yet be announced, but, ”simple, targeted and cost-effective interventions” had been highlighted.
“The critical window of opportunity is the 1,000 days of life, from conception to two-years old,” they said. “Fortified staples, the promotion of breastfeeding, complementary foods after six months of age are some of those interventions available to help break this cycle of malnutrition.”
In an email Tissandier added: “One of the first step of this Memorandum of Understanding will be to assess existing policies, practices and capacities in agriculture, nutrition and food security. We can’t really say what we are going to do before the assessment is done. We should have an action plan this spring.”
Jay Naidoo, chair of GAIN Board sated: “One in four people suffer from malnutrition, 25 per cent of children are undernourished and 40 per cent are stunted. Fifty-three percent of pregnant women in Africa are anemic. Malnutrition is costing millions of lives, in particular women and children. It also prevents millions of people from contributing to the Continent's growth and development? It is directly linked to achieving the MDGs, including poverty reduction, child mortality, maternal health, AIDS and many other infectious diseases?. It is estimated that countries lose up to 3 per cent of GDP due to malnutrition.”
NEPAD chief executive officer Ibrahim Mayaki the multi-factorial nature of Africa’s malnutrition problem. “Improvement requires multi-sectoral action across the food security, agriculture, social protection, health and educational sectors. This poses a significant delivery challenge for national governments. Although tested, affordable and effective interventions are available; implementation has not yet reached scale.”
GAIN was created by the United Nations in 2002 to address malnutrition issues.
Groups like Vitamin Angels, along with companies such as BASF and DSM have been involved in programmes to boost nutrient intakes in Africa to combat malnutrition.