Maputo — The Mozambican and British governments launched in Maputo on Tuesday the “Scaling up Nutrition” (SUN) initiative, which seeks to bring private companies into the fight against chronic malnutrition which currently affects around 43 per cent of all Mozambican children under the age of five.
So far, 25 private companies are committed to this initiative, and its total budget is around seven million pounds sterling (about 10 million US dollars).
“Scaling Up Nutrition will play an important role in access to good nutrition in Mozambique in the coming years”, said the British Minister for International Development, Nicholas Hurd, during the launch. He added that the initiative showed the potential of the private sector in Mozambique.
Hurd, on a two day working visit to Mozambique, claimed that private business is “a fundamental partner” for solutions that would lead to sustainable development.
“To achieve great results, we need to involve the market operators”, he said. “The private sector should go further and share its experience and interest in order to attain better results for nutrition in the country”.
“Malnutrition prevents the development of human capital which is evidently necessary to build the labour market that the companies need”, said Hurd. “In this initiative, the private sector will act as a mediator which identifies and invests in companies that want to assist in nutrition”.
ThE initiative comes at a time when severe drought is affecting much of southern and central Mozambique, worsening the nutrition and food security situation of households that live on the basis of agriculture and livestock.
The Minister of Industry and Trade, Max Tonela, said the initiative could play a key role in solving the problems of chronic malnutrition. “Several food companies and other enterprises will be involved”, he said. “The initiative will involve small scale producers, it will benefit low income consumers, and there will be distribution of basic foodstuffs”.
At the ceremony, the national director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Katia Dias, expressed concern at the seriousness of Mozambique's food security situation. “We must think of how to find solution to improve the situation”, she said, “and the private sector can contribute to making food available in school and hospital meal initiatives, for example”.