African leaders discuss ways to beat hunger, malnutrition

13Dec 2017
The Guardian
African leaders discuss ways to beat hunger, malnutrition

THE inaugural meeting of the Malabo Montpellier Forum was held here yesterday with high-level decision-makers from African countries and international development partners discussing strategies for beating hunger and malnutrition on the continent.

“The African Union and Malabo Declaration have set us some clear goals, including boosting agricultural productivity, halving poverty and ending hunger,” said Malawi’s vice president Saulos Klaus Chilima, who is co-chairing the forum

alongside Benin’s minister of state for planning and development, Abdoulaye Bio Tchané.

 

“In order to successfully meet these targets, it will be crucial to work together,” Chilima added.

 

Several African countries have reduced malnutrition significantly in the last decade, proving that the fight against it can be won. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, undernourishment affected 224 million people last year, accounting for 25 per cent of undernourished people in the world.

 

In order to stop this suffering, it is crucial for policy makers to learn lessons from countries that are making progress in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

 

According to Tchané: “This forum is one of the only high-level platforms in Africa dedicated to evidence-based dialogue and exchange on critical issues of food security and agricultural growth.”

 

“It is a brilliant way to share what works, why and how. Across Africa, countries are tackling the issue of malnutrition with resourcefulness and ingenuity. Policies and programmes are being implemented that have been able to make a real difference.”

The Benin minister expressed hope that the meeting would enable the reviewing of policy and programmatic lessons “which can ensure that we provide the best environment for Africans to win the fight against malnutrition”.

Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda reduced their numbers of undernourished people as well as wasted and stunted children by more than a half between 2000 and last year, according to the Global Hunger Index. Meanwhile, Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Togo achieved reductions of more than 40 per cent.

Questions widely expected to be the focus of the one-day meeting included what these countries did right, and what policies, institutional and programmatic innovations made their progress possible?

 

Stefan Schmitz, Head of the Division of Rural Development and Food Security at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said it was encouraging to see many African countries leading the way in

showing the world that “we can achieve a world free of hunger and malnutrition.”

“The government of Germany’s One World No Hunger initiative and the G20 Declaration highlight our commitment to work alongside African governments to achieve these goals,” said Schmitz.

He added that “as leaders in our governments, we must make the effort to share evidence about the interventions that work in order to meet the target of ending hunger by 2030.”

The forum works in parallel with the Malabo Montpellier Panel, with the latter gathering evidence and preparing reports and the forum convening decision makers at the highest level to discuss the successes and challenges presented by evidence.

The Malabo Montpellier Panel consists of 17 leading African and European experts in agriculture, ecology, nutrition, public policy and global development. It supports high-level evidence-based dialogue and policy choices that accelerate progress towards the goals set out in the AU’s Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Panel works with African governments and civil society organisations to provide access to data and analysis facilitating the design and implementation of policies that enhance agriculture, food and nutrition security.