Most governments in Africa only allocate about 2% of their national Gross Domestic Products to nutrition improvement, a situation that has exacerbated poverty and stunted growth, experts have warned.

This came out at a meeting attended by one hundred and eighty-six nutrition experts from 23-member states and 64 partners. 

The partners meeting was organized by the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) in June this year.

Due to Coronavirus outbreak, the meeting was held in a hybrid style in 14 Member States, gathering at a venue and connected virtually with participants from other countries. 

Participants from other 9 Member States joined the meeting virtually. 

AUDA- NEPAD chief executive officer Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki urged member states and partners to allocate resources in order to realize nutrition improvement in communities.

 Kefilwe Moalosi, Senior Nutrition Officer, AUDA-NEPAD, presented an overview of the continental status of food and nutrition security (FSN) and alluded to the continental and regional frameworks and strategies, including IFNA. 

She highlighted targets of the African Regional Nutrition Strategy which are aligned with global targets and the importance of accountability and reporting on the nutrition status, as stipulated in the Malabo/CAADP Result Framework. 

Agriculture Economist Joel Okwir from COMESA provided a presentation on the regional context highlighting concerns to access to nutritious food and food safety.

 Shadrack Oiye, Senior Nutrition Expert, IGAD mentioned high rate of stunting and poverty, low coverage of essential health, and nutrition services in cross-border areas as the regional challenges. 

 Jane Wanjiru, Deputy Director Agriculture, Head of Agri-Nutrition unit Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Republic of Kenya, presented how IFNA and its approach has assisted Kenya in terms of production for nutrition improvement.

 Assisted by IFNA, Kenya brought stakeholders from different sector and developed the IFNA Country Strategy for Action (ICSA).

 It is a government strategy document to translate policy into specific actions. IFNA has a strong focus on food-based approach addressing malnutrition.

 This approach was embedded in the pilot project in Kitui county, to which IFNA provided technical and financial assistance.

Four countries, Botswana, Lesotho, Somalia and Tanzania, provided presentations on key FNS issues at the country level, actions/interventions to address them, as well as the challenges faced and specific support needed.

Botswana’s priority areas are malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, maternal nutrition, reducing non-communicable diseases, improving food quality and safety, and mainstreaming nutrition into agriculture program. 

Priority interventions include the promotion of nutrition sensitive programming, climate change adaptation, participation in agriculture by youth and people with disability, virtual markets promotion, and access to finance.

 Health related interventions include the improvement of infant and young child feeding practices, micronutrient supplementation for pregnant women and children, and improving food quality and safety. 

IFNA aims at ensuring nutrition results on the ground. IFNA’s key principles include focus on impacts, local/country ownership, and involvement of the public, private, civil society constituencies

The object of the meeting was to understand the continental, regional and country context in food and nutrition issues.

It also aimed to share IFNA’s good practices and its approaches and expansion of IFNA implementation to all African governments through advocacy, capacity development and project design and implementation on the ground:

The meeting was also a launchpad for upcoming nutrition events – UN Food Systems Summit, Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit and the proposed AU Year of Nutrition in 2022.