By Selamawit Negash
Malnutrition in Africa is at present one of the leading causes of mortality among children under five. Data indicate that malnutrition including intra uterine growth restriction, stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies contribute to up to 45per cent of all child deaths in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 per cent of children under 5 years of age are stunted. Food and nutrition security in Africa, in particular in Sub Saharan Africa has hardly improved over the last decade, despite many initiatives at global and regional level.
There are evidences that all global advocacy initiatives need country examples – champions that can show in practice, and not just in theory, how to achieve results when resources are scarce and the challenges are great. The European Union (EU) and UNICEF partner to improve nutrition security in Africa at regional level and in a total of four target countries Burkina Faso, Mali, Uganda and Ethiopia. The Africa Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP) programme that is being implemented in 2012-2015 is a multi-donor initiative of in total €21 million with the support from the EU amounting to €15 million. The programme aims at increasing the commitment to nutrition in terms of policies, budgets, and effective programming and implementation. The programme fosters high-level policy engagement to nutrition at continental, regional and national levels and contributes to scaling up of high-impact nutrition interventions in the four target countries by integrating nutrition goals into broader health, development and agricultural efforts.
Ethiopia hosted the 3rd Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership Annual Review Meeting from 14 to 15 October 2014. Participants from the government of Ethiopia EU, UNICEF as well as Cornell University from continental, regional and country level organisations discuss accomplishments, bottlenecks to implementations and sharing experiences and best practices among ANSP beneficiary countries.
Good progresses is made towards the achievements of the ANSP objectives in all of the four ANSP result areas of policy, capacity, information system and programme scale up. It is clear that during the meeting, that ANSP is helping to improve the political environment for nutrition with strong continental, regional and national leadership, multisectoral coordination and joint accountability scale up community level nutrition interventions.
2015 will be the last year for ANSP support and partners must work to integrate the efforts being made with the local structures and systems to ensure sustainability. It will be very important to work on synergising continental level activities which aim to create enabling policy environment with community level programmes to scale up key high impact multisectoral nutrition interventions.
The meeting emphasised, the support for nutrition in Africa should continue within the framework of the Post 2015 Nutrition Action Plan.