SADC Food and Nutrition Security Managers from the Member States, who attended the SADC Food and Nutrition Technical Steering Committee meeting in Johannesburg South Africa at the Capital Empire Hotel, 26-28 September 2023.
The region is experiencing several shocks due to climate change, crop and livestock production is declining. Millions of children under the age five years are having signs of malnutrition globally as effects of various factors such as Covid -19, Ukraine war, poverty, gender inequality and others. They are putting strain on food security and nutrition indicators.
The Food and Nutrition Security meeting gathered the responsible of nutrition and production (agriculture/ husbandry) from SADC Member States. All the 16 countries were represented whether in presence or on-line. The partners participated were the UN agencies (WHO, UNICEF, FAO, WFP), AUDA NEPAD, IFNA, GAIN other partners working in Food fortification such as Feed the future.
As overall the food and Nutrition Security meeting aimed for stocktaking on Member States implementation of the Ministers Decisions related to Nutrition and Food Security and further discussed priorities and emerging areas of focus as aligned to the SADC priorities including the Food and Nutrition Security Strategy (2015-2025).
Specifically, the meeting (1) will provide an update on the regional Food and Nutrition Security situation and recommendations from the 2023 Regional Synthesis Report, (2) share progress and status on implementation of Food and Nutrition security priorities and Minister’s decisions at regional and at Member State level, (3) focus on the coordination efforts for Large Scale food fortification at regional level and how the private sector can be better integrated (4) update on the Status on the SADC nutrition center of excellence and other key priority updates for 2023 (5)
Sensitize Member States on the IFNA (Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa) roadmap and (6) Identify priorities in Member States.
Status of Food Security including Supply & Demand of diversified Food Production and nutrition security
- Regarding the production overall Member States produced commodities however did not have all (mentioned in the template) except for Madagascar, some countries like DRC mostly import.
The main key achievement cited were that Food Security is attained for certain products like cereal in some countries whereas others are increasing focus on production of staple foods leading to reduction in import, development of Policies and strategies to guide implementation of nutrition interventions or being developed.
Challenges mentioned were the decline in production due to climate change and decline in buying power due to high food prices. In some countries, multisectoral approach is not yet effective.
- Regarding nutrition overall some progresses have been done; some decreases were noticed. Few countries achieved improvement in all nutrition indicators, stunting rates still a concern, obesity in steadily increasing as experienced by member states.
The main key achievement mentioned were the development of plan to address Nutrition in Emergency, Food fortification program is present in most Member States, maternal and adolescent nutrition is being prioritized by member states.
As challenges most Member States do have outdated and insufficient data to refer to and to inform and guide interventions except Comoros which had the 2022 data. High prices were mentioned as consequences of Covid 19 and Ukraine war. Other challenges are lack of funding for nutrition intervention and lack of human resources to deliver nutrition services while staff absorption is also a challenge, increase in prevalence of diet related NCDs.
There are several partners’ presentation that we can highlight are – excel geo tracking tool developed by a consulting firm (by Kenya, Genesis) to help tracking financial budget for nutrition to monitor and measure nutrition expenditure across the 5 systems relevant for nutrition interventions to ensure that finances are spent on high impact interventions.
Development of strategy to prevent and control overweight and obesity, by Professor Thandi Puone including the development process followed, the policy alignment of strategy with existing policies and strategies that can be found on WHO website and others and the findings from the literature review and stakeholders’ interviews, the theory of change and finalization steps.
Accelerating efforts for preventing micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, through safe and effective food fortification: Dr Hana Bekele. WHO has several guiding documents and resources on addressing micronutrient deficiencies and recommends large scale food fortification as a powerful high impact intervention.
- Overview of the continental nutrition accountability scorecard (CNAS) – AFDB
This scorecard was launched in 2019 which is based on the WHA indicators and using a digital platform. This tool assist countries to improve the socio-economic status and inform the development of right policies and financing. It can inform the service coverage in nutrition sensitive.
- Discussions were around food fortification and how to involve the private sectors, how to modernized and customized food system, the need in investment for Monitoring/ Information system and recent data, the necessity of one regional coordination mechanism, how to ensure implementation and operationalization at provincial and district level, climate change and provision of holistic response for Climate change issues, how to engage regulatory bodies.
- IFNA had a particular slot, a general presentation on the first day and the half day on the second day. The objective was to Sensitize Member States on the IFNA (Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa) roadmap.
The second day was more focused on the training, that purpose will lead to some specific project concepts in the ground from an action plan or proposal, the training will target development as well partners. IFNA facilitates resources mobilization from partners.
Members States were interested and wanted to get more information on the type of support provided to countries by IFNA, how countries can approach IFNA and the funding. Others suggested the use of NFA tool in post implementation of dietary guideline to see changes of the consumption of people, the use and application of lessons about dietary diversity from countries. Regarding the Multisectoral Coordination, the targets of food security and nutrition security should be discussed between agriculture and nutrition, the involvement of high level official minister or president for coordination, ensure alignment of DP plan to government plan , defining strategy for funding cycle and mechanism.
It is important to address the root cause of malnutrition. Member states need to come up with innovative measures to work towards achieving better on food and nutrition security, to work in a coordinated manner in agriculture and other health issues. Member states should be prepared for disasters and have transformed food systems. There is need to support food fortification programs following the SADC standards.