AU, partners advocate for increased investment in nutrition

19Oct 2016
Angel Navuri
The Guardian
AU, partners advocate for increased investment in nutrition

THE African Union (AU) and its partners are increasing collaboration to advocate for investment in nutrition by way of developing the continent’s diverse food systems so that dietary diversity is guaranteed, accessible, affordable and sustainable.

This is according to the concept note that was made available to the Guardian by African Union Commission for the 7th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) that will be held in Accra , Ghana end of this month.

The theme for this year has been agreed to be “Investing in Food Systems for Improving Child Nutrition: Key to Africa’s Renaissance” whereas ADFNS will serve as a platform for rallying political and financial commitments at all levels to address challenges of food and nutrition insecurity in Africa.

The event will provide a platform at national, regional and continental levels to share experiences, knowledge and mutual learning, as well as measure progress in assuring food and nutrition security for all by governments and multi-stakeholder partners.

The aim of the concept note is to provide pertinent information on the commemoration of the October 2016 ADFNS, including its proposed theme and sub-themes. It also provides background information on the theme and sub-themes of the event.

From the beginning of this second decade of the Third Millennium and in the wake of the celebration of the 50 years of the existence of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)/African Union (AU) Africa’s Leadership and think tank have become resolute on Africa’s Renaissance.

They rallied behind Africa’s Agenda 20631. The sixth Aspiration of the “Africa We Want” emphatically envisions “An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children”.

“Unfortunately, topped by under-nutrition, obesity and food safety issues, the Africa child encounters numerous obstacle for realising his/her full potential. A considerable body of literature paints a bleak picture on determinants of survival and socioeconomic potential of the African child,” reads the concept note.

It further explains that the continent lags behind in terms of average life expectancy, child survival and nutrition statistics. Under-5 mortality rate ranges from 12 (Mauritius and Tunisia) to 157 (Angola) per 1000 children2 as for 2015. By 2015

In recent years the challenge of overweight and obesity has gained interest. Obesity and underweight poses serious problems to human health, as it is major cause of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Obesity also has economic costs.

Giving a background the concept note reads that the Malabo Declaration on ending hunger that aims to reduce stunting and underweight among under-five year old children to 10 and 5% respectively recognizes the importance of addressing child malnutrition on the continent.

In this light, the commemoration of the 2016 edition of the ADFNS sets out to buttress the importance of investing in nutritious foods through agriculture, food systems and other relevant interventions in order to ensure the improvement in the chances of survival of the African Child.

Building on the above theme, four sub-themes have been conceived to provide valid arguments to fulfil the aim of the commemorative event, investing in the 1,000 days window of opportunity and early childhood development for improving child survival (to include health, nutrition, WASH, maternal education, breast feeding).

And investing in home grown school feeding for optimum educational outcomes, community development (linking agriculture to nutrition, promoting diverse food production and markets for smallholder farmers’ impacts on school enrolment) and leveraging social protection for child nutrition with special reference to recent humanitarian and climatic disasters.

ADFNS was declared in July 2010 by the African Union Heads of State and Government (at the 15th Ordinary Session of the AU Summit) in Kampala, Uganda. This decision was made in recognition of the unacceptable and chronic crisis of hunger and malnutrition in Africa.

The first ADFNS was successfully launched in Lilongwe, Malawi, on October 31, 2010. Since then the ADFNS has been commemorated six times with the last edition taking place in Kampala, Uganda, from October 28 to 30, 2015.

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