5 November 2017

African Leaders Part of Global Response to Malnutrition Crisis as Over $3.4 Billion is Committed at Global Nutrition Summit 2017

Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
A child has a meal at a food distribution centre in the Rwanda camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), near Tawila, North Darfur. More than 8,000 women and children living in the camp benefit from nutrition programmes run by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Milan — African leaders gathered at a summit to address the global crisis of malnutrition helped to galvanise US3.4bn including US$640 million in new commitments, organisers said today.

The Global Nutrition Summit 2017, held in Milan, Italy, convened governments – including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Niger, Zambia and Ivory Coast – cities, international agencies, foundations, civil society organisations and businesses to accelerate the global response to malnutrition, an underlying cause of nearly half of all global child deaths.

"The global malnutrition crisis endangers the physical and mental wellbeing of present and future generations" said Kofi Annan, speaking at the summit in his capacity as Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation. "Progress in tackling both undernutrition and obesity is possible with targeted commitments, like those made here today. We need further urgent investments so that people, communities and nations can reach their full potential."

The Dangote Foundation's Managing Director and CEO Zouera Youssoufou said: "Nigeria's high malnutrition rate is undermining progress towards improving child health and survival and putting the brakes on economic development.  By investing in nutrition, we aim to directly improve the lives of Nigerian families and to empower our citizens to reach their full potential."

In Ethiopia, through its National Nutrition Program, the government aims to reduce the prevalence of three crucial indicators of malnutrition in children under five: stunting from 40 per cent to 26 per cent; underweight from 25 per cent to 13 per cent and wasting from 9 per cent to 4.9 per cent. Through the Seqota Declaration, the government has the ambition to eliminate stunting in children under 2 years of age by 2030.

The First Lady of Ethiopia Roman Tesfaye said: "We are proud that rates of malnutrition in Ethiopia have reduced in recent years, but it is critical that these numbers continue to decline given its devastating impact, specifically in children. By investing in robust national programmes, we are striving to improve child health and development across Ethiopia."

Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Zambia also made commitments to expand domestic programmes to improve nutrition for mothers and children.

"Malnutrition is not about a lack of food, but rather a lack of nutritious diets," said Graça Machel, Founder of the Graça Machel Trust and speaker at the Summit.  "When women are well-nourished, future generations benefit.  This is a collective responsibility and if we are to enhance our chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, government, the private sector, the development community and civil society, needs to come together and approach malnutrition as a developmental priority in a more integrated way."

The Global Nutrition Report 2017, launched at the summit, showed that, in spite of progress,155 million children globally are still stunted – they're too short for their age often due to lack of nutrients, impacting their physical and cognitive development – and the world is off track on meeting internationally agreed nutrition targets. Financing to tackle malnutrition has been alarmingly low. Donors spend about 0.5 percent of overseas aid on nutrition, and countries allocate between one and two percent of their health budgets to the issue.

New commitments announced at the Milan summit included:

  • US$100 million over five years from the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the philanthropic organisation of Aliko Dangote, founder and Executive Chairman of the Nigerian Dangote group, Africa's largest homegrown conglomerate, to reduce the prevalence of undernutrition by 60 percent in targeted areas of Nigeria.
  • The Ethiopian government, through its National Nutrition Program, commits to reduce the prevalence of stunted; underweight and wasted children under five.
  • Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Zambia, also made commitments to expand domestic programmes to improve nutrition for mothers and children.

Several affected countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, El Salvador and Madagascar, also made commitments to expand domestic programs to improve nutrition for mothers and children.

World Bank analysis in 2016 found that an additional, initial investment of US$3.7bn a year is needed to make progress toward the global targets for stunting, anemia in women, exclusive breastfeeding and the scaling up of the treatment of severe wasting.

The Global Nutrition Summit was the first global forum of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2026) which is co-led by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization.  It aimed to build on the legacy of the first Nutrition for Growth conference held in London in 2013, which mobilized over US$4 billion for nutrition projects, and US$19 billion for projects that improve nutrition via projects in other sectors such as agriculture, water and sanitation.

About the Global Nutrition Summit 2017: Milan

The Global Nutrition Summit 2017 is being held in collaboration with the Italian Ministry Of Health and City of Milan and in close partnership with a number of international stakeholders including the U.K.'s Department for International Development, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Coalition on Advocacy for Nutrition. It was convened with the objective of taking stock of nutrition commitments made to date, celebrating progress toward global goals on nutrition, and announcing additional commitments to accelerate the global response to malnutrition in all its forms.

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