Ending Hunger and Malnutrition: The IFNA lens in Chad

13May 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Ending Hunger and Malnutrition: The IFNA lens in Chad

Chad, a country in Central Africa has one of the highest levels of hunger in the world. Around 87 percent of its mainly rural population lives below the poverty line. High levels of poverty have been exacerbated by numerous conflicts and climate-related disasters over the past 50 years.

People depend on farming and livestock for their livelihoods, but agriculture is challenging as the El Niño weather phenomenon is making rainy seasons unpredictable.

This places even more strain on vulnerable families living in the Sahelian belt. Around 40 percent of children under 5 are stunted, according to the World Bank, with low height for their age caused by chronic malnutrition. Maternal health is poor, with high maternal mortality rates due to inadequate access to health services. Access to basic education is also limited.1

In August 2016, the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), an initiative led by AUDA-NEPAD and JICA, was launched to contribute to a comprehensive improvement in the malnutrition status of Africa in line with the Second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) and the Malabo Declaration, reaching towards ‘The Africa We Want’ aspiration through the Agenda 2063 framework.

The objective of IFNA in its declaration is to establish a framework for collaboration with African governments in order to accelerate the implementation of the food and nutrition security policies and programmes on the ground. To date, there are 12 IFNA participating countries2 and Chad is one of the recent countries to join the Initiative. During the last week of April, the IFNA team met with the Minister of Health in Chad, Hon. Aziz Mahamat Saleh to introduce IFNA and its operational plan.

Hon. Aziz Mahamat Saleh expressed his gratitude to IFNA for selecting Chad as one of its participating countries.

He reassured the team of his commitment and support to implement IFNA as one of the initiatives which will contribute to the eradication of hunger and malnutrition in Chad. He further said that, “Nutrition education and preventative measures are also critical at national level.”

Chronic malnutrition also increased from 26 per cent in 2016 to 32.4 per cent in 2017, exceeding the critical threshold of 40 per cent in five regions.

Mr Kenjiro Ban, IFNA Chief Official gave a background to IFNA, highlighting the objectives of the Initiative, which are to improve nutrition outcomes and strengthen national nutrition coordination mechanisms, as well as to enhance technical and human support, among others. He shared some of the good IFNA good practices form countries such as Madagascar, which is the first to complete IFNA Country Strategy for Actions.

Mr Ban also added that development partners such as the World Bank, FAO and JICA are already supporting the implementation of IFNA based on IFNA Country Strategy for Action in Madagascar. He further said more IFNA countries are at various stages on the IFNA implementation process and they are all progressing using the similar approach.

In addition, Ms Kefilwe Moalosi, AUDA-NEPAD Senior Nutrition Officer, also shared some insights from IFNA since its inception and emphasised on the Malabo Declaration on commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition by 2025 and Agenda 2030, respectively. She mentioned that the IFNA vision is in response to accelerate the implementation of such nutrition goals and targets as stipulated in both the SDGs and Malabo Declaration.

In 2018, a report revealed that US$ 282.5 million is needed to save the lives of those most affected by the food and nutrition crisis in Chad. On a related note, FAO Chad Representative, Mr Mohamadou Mansour N’diaye, urged IFNA to put Chad on the map and to also consider ‘Lives Saving’ approaches in mitigating hunger and malnutrition on the ground.