Matekane urges AU to scale up nutrition solutions



MASERU – Prime Minister Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane has urged African Union (AU) member states to propose policy and programme solutions for scaling up nutrition through multi-sector investments. He emphasised the need for stronger policies and increased financing to combat malnutrition and ensure the well-being and future of children.

Matekane commended the commitment of the African Leaders for Nutrition entity to encourage African leaders to enhance nutrition for the continent’s overall development. Speaking on behalf of the African Union’s Champion for Nutrition, King Letsie III, Matekane made this call during a high-level roundtable discussion at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa this week.

African leaders at the summit have pledged to reduce malnutrition and stunting in Africa by 40 percent by 2025. The Kingdom of Lesotho, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, and partners are calling for renewed commitment to improve nutrition for Africa’s children.

Matekane highlighted that leaders’ commitment is crucial in driving policy and legislative actions to address malnutrition. He said: “Member states need to adopt stronger policies and increase financing for nutrition to turn the tide of malnutrition and secure the future of our children. I also call upon all nutrition leaders, including members of the Presidential Dialogue Group, to lead the development of multi-sectoral interventions addressing malnutrition across key sectors like health, education, agriculture, social protection, water, and sanitation.”

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, highlighted the duty and responsibility to reduce malnutrition and stunting in Africa by 40 percent by 2025. He stressed the importance of strong political policies deployed by heads of state and government to tackle malnutrition, as it affects educational potential, work productivity, and economic growth.

Adesina referenced the World Food Programme (WFP)’s Cost of Hunger Studies in Africa, projecting an increase to 51.5 percent in undernourished people in Africa. The studies revealed the far-reaching implications of malnutrition on societal progress, hindering education and diminishing work productivity.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) studies also emphasised that malnutrition has broad implications for societal progress, impacting educational attainment and work productivity, resulting in a loss of 1.9 to 16.5 percent of Gross Development Product (GDP) annually for many African countries.

Malnutrition in Lesotho is driven by poverty, a lack of diverse and nutritious diets, low agricultural productivity, and the limited capacity of local government units to deliver nutrition interventions.  In addition to addressing stunting, countries aim to prevent an increase in overweight prevalence among children under five by 2025.

The roundtable, conducted in collaboration with the AU, the African Development Bank, African Leaders for Nutrition, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and Nutrition International, focused on ‘Addressing Malnutrition: Catalysing Africa’s Transformation through Enhanced Multi-Sectoral Investments.’

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