Evidence shows that Africa has made progress on a number of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) although there still remains much work to be done to achieve sustained food and nutrition security, good nutrition and health for all.
The persistent food and nutrition insecurity demands higher quality food supply from agriculture and food systems to reduce vulnerability. Overweight, obesity and their associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing across our countries and contribute significantly to the multiple burdens of disease in relatively weak agriculture and health systems, whilst anaemia, stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies remain unacceptably high in our Region.
From May 25th to 29th, 2015, around 280 delegates and experts with interests in nutrition from over 26 countries met in Arusha, Tanzania for the 3rd conference of the Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS) under the umbrella theme of “Nutrition in Africa at Crossroads”. Experts from government, field practitioners and programme experts, academia, NGOs, research, International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) international NGOs and bilateral organizations debated and analyzed the challenges of improving nutrition in Africa.
The conference recognized among others, that to address Africa’s nutrition challenges and meet national goals and targets would require the following:
⦁ Empowerment: Empowerment of all actors, especially the most vulnerable population groups with a focus on families and employing food based approaches
⦁ Nutrition Governance: Recognition that nutrition is a human right and yet there are challenges of governance for nutrition the remit for which does not sit clearly in one sector. Multi-sectorial approaches are essential but require proper leadership at the highest level of government to ensure efficiency and accountability
⦁ Systematic Capacity Building: cross-sectoral and at all levels including higher education institutions responsible for the training of the nutrition workforce and the commitment of adequate resources to support nutrition actions and programmes.
⦁ Harmonization of nutrition activities and training and the raising of standards to ensure the right skills and competencies required for the workforce to make a significant contribution to achieving and sustaining the goals for nutrition in Africa. Recognition of local contexts, priorities and the need for stakeholder involvement to ensure standardization and competency based curricula to meet employer and service needs.
We the delegates also recognize that 2015 marks the launch of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework for adoption by national governments. This comes at a time when the Malabo Declaration of the African Union spells out specific goals agreed by the Heads of States to address nutrition and food security on the continent by:
⦁ Increasing momentum to spend at least 10% of national budgets on agriculture; aim for 6 % growth in the sector; and promote accelerated agricultural growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods across the continent
⦁ Working to improve nutritional status, and in particular, targeted reduction of stunting to 10% and wasting to 5% from current levels by 2025.
1. We call on the African Union Heads of States to commit at least 3% of all Sector budgets for nutrition to ensure that the cross-sectoral issues which affect nutrition can be adequately addressed.
2. We call for clearer visibility for nutrition including specific funding commitments in the implementation of the SDGs framework.
3. We advocate clear, streamlined and fit-for-purpose national nutrition policies and governance frameworks, their coordination, implementation, monitoring & evaluation and overall accountability for scaling up.
4. We African nutritionists recognize the competition for limited financial resources and urge prioritized investments to ensure measurable impact in meeting national nutritional needs
5. We recognize the initiatives and efforts made by African Nutrition Professional bodies and our international partners to help address capacity gaps in the nutrition workforce and advocate national institutional support and commitment to sustain the momentum and allow for scaling up such efforts
6. We African nutritionists pledge to work collaboratively with the African Union and its relevant institutions such as NEPAD to provide professional expertise, leadership and support in realizing continental goals for nutrition
7. FANUS (in its Capacity building efforts) supports and will work with other relevant organizations in efforts to improve harmonization of competency based nutrition training in institutions in member countries and support improvements in standards and efforts towards professional recognition and regulation
8. We call for Africans to take leadership in addressing African malnutrition