15 March 2018

Malawi's Food Baskets Still Recording High Figures of Malnutrition

Lilongwe — The Civil Society Organization Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) says there is need to advocate for behavior change in districts which are regarded as food baskets in Malawi but are still recording high numbers of malnutrition cases.

In the Malawi Demographic Household Survey of 2016, Malawi has reduced stunting cases by 10 percent against the 47 percent recorded in 2010.

But some districts like Dedza, Mchinji, Mangochi, Ntcheu and Neno are still recording over 40 percent cases of malnutrition. Unfortunately, these are some of the districts regarded as food baskets in Malawi.

On Wednesday, CSONA and the GRAÇA MACHEL TRUST (GMT) held a meeting in Lilongwe to among others identify opportunities for joint advocacy, which was graced by GMT founder Graca Machel.

GMT is working on a nutrition program with CSONA aimed at placing high nutrition on Malawi government's agenda.

Speaking after the meeting, Bessie Ndovi who is Program Manager for CSONA said all stakeholders must be commended for all their efforts in reducing malnutrition.

She however said there is need for advocacy in all the districts regarded as food baskets but are still recording high figures of malnutrition.

"Most of the rural people are poor and they mainly produce for sale and not for consumption. So, they sell their best produce in order to support their families.

"What we need to do is provide advocacy in these communities for them to be able to strike a balance between their incomes and their household needs so that they may be able to provide nutritious food to their under five children," said Ndovi.

She noted that the ministry of agriculture is currently promoting agribusiness among farmers.

Ndovi however said this advocacy being called for does not mean stopping farmers from selling their produce, but rather teaching them on how best to budget for it.

On the other hand, Ndovi acknowledged that the absence of a nutrition policy is hampering efforts of fighting malnutrition.

"The last implementable policy expired between the period of 2012 - 2013 and five years have gone without one but it is paramount that we have a guiding document.

"I urge the policy holder which is the Ministry of Health and Population to ensure that we have that policy, which has already been finalized but only awaits approval and launch," she said.

In her remarks, Graca Machel said she was impressed with the strides made by Malawi in ending malnutrition but said the 37 percent still remains high.

Rachel Toku - Appiah who is Nutrition Program Manager for GMT said there is still a lot to be done to reach 2030 target.

"The target for 2030 is elimination, hence there is still a lot of work to be done to get from that 37 percent to zero stunting," she said.

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