The third Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security was held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on 31 October, with the theme Ensuring access to safe and nutritious foods.
The objective was to create a platform in which food and nutrition security stakeholders can meet, discuss solutions and make recommendations on food security issues affecting Africa.
The meeting at the African Union headquarters was addressed by the AU's Deputy Chairperson, Mr Erastus Mwencha; AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Tumusiime; NEPAD Agency CEO, Dr Mayaki; and Ethiopia's Minister of State for Agriculture (and UN Goodwill Ambassador and world long distance running champion) Haile Gebre Selassie.
EU Ambassador Gary QUINCE, Head of Delegation and Special Representative of the EU to the AU, addressed the participants with a goodwill message "During the Olympic Games in London last August, world leaders came together at the Global Hunger Event to step up efforts to improve nutrition, and in particular reduce the rate of stunting among the world's poorest children, before the next Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. Leaders endorsed a global target to reduce by 70 million the number of children affected by stunting over the next few years. For its part the EU took responsibility for at least 10% of this target, or 7 million children."
AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Tumusiime, who opened the session, said "The Africa Day for food and Nutrition Security remains an important rallying point that provides one of the best platforms for mobilising all sectors to deliver on nutrition sensitive actions. It also mobilises leaders and practitioners to best understand nutrition as a development imperative and therefore to design policies and implement programs in a manner that halts the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, dead in its tracks. Therefore, we need to shine a spotlight on nutrition, and to target those windows of opportunity such as the first 1 000 days from conception to the first two years of life, as this provides the biggest impact on saving lives and improving lifelong cognitive and physical capacity and enhanced productive capacity in adulthood."
Ambassador Quince further stressed, "It is also essential to build resilience at household and community levels, to help ease dependence on crisis management and boost longer-term resilience and growth. In this connection, the EU has just adopted on 3rd October, a policy paper on building resilience and fostering a more effective EU approach in dealing with food security crises, particularly in fragile situations."
UNICEF statistics indicate, that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 54 million children under five years of age are suffering from chronic malnutrition, and that 20 percent of those in that age group weigh too little for their age.