AFRICA – The African Development Bank in collaboration with Aliko Dangote Foundation and Big Win Philanthropy has unveiled a new Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan that aims at reducing stunting by 40% in African children aged under 5 by 2025.
The initiative targets to raise investments geared towards improving nutrition information across the continent where undernutrition and malnutrition is prominent.
AfDB says Africa loses US$25 billion per year in costs attributed to child morbidity and mortality, impaired cognitive, physical, and economic development caused by malnutrition.
The bank has pledged to scale up the proportion of investments that are‘nutrition-smart’ in agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, social and health sectors in order to prevent such losses.
The initiative highlights the need for additional support and commitment for nutrition from both the government and the private sector.
“In terms of human development, nutrition is as important as investments in infrastructure and power in stimulating economic growth.
Big Win Philanthropy is thrilled with President Adesina’s leadership in giving greater priority to nutrition and the wider human capital investment agenda,” said Jamie Cooper, Chair and President, Big Win Philanthropy.
“By leveraging investments across five sectors, and encouraging its member countries to do the same, the African Development Bank is achieving ‘doublewins’ for every dollar spent: improving lives and generating economic growth.”
The Plan will focus on integrating nutrition smart interventions into projects in the Bank’s extensive agriculture pipeline, enhance improved productivity and commodity value chains.
This is in line with the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy, which looks to the elimination of extreme hunger, malnutrition, and poverty broad-based nutrition value, instead of just calories.
It will include leveraging ﬂagship initiatives including Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), the Staple Crop Processing Zones Programme,and Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks.
Addressing global nutrition challenges
According to a 2017 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, a growing number of children under five years in Africa are overweight.
The Global Nutrition Report on the other hand calls for a 40% reduction in the number of children under five years who are stunted, 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age, 30% reduction in low birth weight, no increase in childhood overweight and reduce wasting to less than 5% by 2025.
In 2017, more than a third of the world’s stunted children under the age of five lived in Africa with stunting rates ranging from 35.6% in East Africa to 32.1%, 29.9%, 29.1%, and 17.3% in Central Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and Northern Africa respectively, says the Plan.
The Plan also revealed that Africa is the only region in the world where the number of stunted children has risen in the past few years.
“The African continent has the potential to become a powerhouse of productivity in the 21st century but cannot sustain rates of economic growth and at the same time integrate its burgeoning youth population without addressing these high rates of stunting,” said Oley Dibba-Wadda, the Bank’s Director Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department.