African leaders call for unification of nutrition targets

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

African heads of state are calling for unity to achieve the 2025 goal to stamp out malnutrition. Pic: GettyImages/Pixsooz
African heads of state are calling for unity to achieve the 2025 goal to stamp out malnutrition. Pic: GettyImages/Pixsooz

Related tags hunger Malnutrition food insecurity Africa African Development Bank African Union United nations

Ahead of the 2025 World Health Assembly Nutrition deadline, several heads of African Union (AU) member states have called for more commitment and accountability in tackling malnutrition and food insecurity.

The leaders took part in a breakaway meeting during the 36th​ Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, organised by the Kingdom of Lesotho, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

"It is unacceptable that we stay silent and indifferent" - King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho

The meeting – organised by the UN’s FOA under the AfDB’s African Leaders for Nutrition initiative – centred on long-lasting measures to curb malnutrition and food security in Africa.

Unacceptable and unnecessary

Malnourished African boy himarkley
Pic: GettyImages

“It is unacceptable that we stay silent and indifferent at a time when 60% of our continent’s population (799 million people) is affected by moderate or severe food insecurity – making Africa the highest level globally. This means one-third of the world's undernourished (282 million people) live in Africa,” said Lesotho’s PM Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane, on behalf King Letsie III.

The King – who is also a Nutrition Champion for the African Leaders for Nutrition and African Union initiative – encouraged attendees via pre-recorded message to meet the nutrition goals established by the World Health Assembly to reduce malnutrition and stunting by 2025.

“I have a strong conviction that we can achieve our nutrition targets,” he said.

“If we can accelerate investments and improve the coordination of efforts, Africa will advance nutrition and improve food security outcomes.”

Let’s band together

Holding hands Africans borgogniels
Pic: GettyImages

The event served as a wake-up call for African heads of nations to strengthen bonds to collectively achieve the target.

The pressure to invest in solutions to tackle the challenges that contribute to malnutrition and food insecurity has intensified across the AU member states.

“It is now more crucial than ever to support vulnerable communities with multiple and innovative solutions to build their resilience and transform agri-food systems to deliver better nutrition,” said Dr Qu Dongyu, director general of the UN’s FOA.

Dr Beth Dunford, AfDB’s VP for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, outlined the bank’s Multi-Sectoral Action Plan, which re-allocates $2.8bn of its investment in its portfolio to be nutrition-smart. The goal is to reduce the occurrence of stunting – a result of chronic under-nutrition – by 40% by 2025.

“I believe that nutrition is a central pillar for Africa’s development,” said Dr Dunford.

“While the African Development Bank has made significant progress in the re-allocation of resources … there’s a need to translate these funding re-allocations into stunting reductions on the ground.”

The progress made

Feeding African children poco_bw
Pic: GettyImages

The meeting also delved into the progress made towards tackling malnutrition.

AU Commissioner for Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development Minata Samate Cessouma presented a progress report of how each country is delivering on the main nutrition indicators.

His report was based on the Continental Nutrition Accountability Scorecard, a data-based advocacy tool.

The Malabo Convention is the AU’s cyber security and personal data protection platform that envisions Africa as a single entity in terms of data and privacy protection and calls for an independent but harmonised legal framework that protects all people.

Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment also provided a closer examination on the progress towards the Malabo Declaration, along with the AU’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) commitments.

Côte d’Ivoire’s VP Tiemoko Meyliet Koné summarised the country’s activities held during the African Union Year of Nutrition 2022, along with the progress towards the Abidjan Declaration, which calls for accelerated investment, implementation and coordination to improve nutrition and food security in Africa.

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