The visiting United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement has lauded the Liberian Government for developing the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) which she terms as very ambitious.
Speaking Thursday, March 7, 2019, at a scale up nutrition meeting held at ONE UN House in Sinkor, Ms. Gerda Verburg said the full implementation of the PAPD will transform Liberia from its current state to a better country.
She said the government of President Dr. George Manneh Weah is well positioned to develop Liberia after years of difficult experiences.
Madam Verburg said the government has the opportunity to change the current state of the country's nutrition status by investing more in the agriculture sector.
She said Liberia is very blessed to have abundant land and fertile soil to not only become food sufficient, but to export to other countries as well.
The UN Executive stressed the need for the government not be concerned about Liberia becoming food secured, but diversifying to ensure that nutritional food are also produced.
Ms. Verburg also underscored the importance of a whole of government approach to nutrition and called for Liberia's leadership as a member country of the SUN Movement.
She said the government needs to take the lead in addressing nutrition issues in the country.
Madam Verburg assured of her institution support to Liberia and its people relative to changing the current narrative as it relates to nutrition.
Earlier, UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia Yacoub El Hillo said it is unacceptable for Liberia that is blessed with abundant rain fall and land to not be able to feed itself.
He said the time has come for more practical action led by the government to address mal-nutrition.
A survey conducted in 2018 shows that 35 percent of children under five are stunting, something Hillo said needs serious attention.
For his part, Deputy Finance Minister Augustine Flomo said the government attaches importance to the agriculture sector considering the fact that when the sector is supported and improved, it can make Liberia food sufficient thereby helping to reduce poverty and create jobs.
He said the president has made agriculture a top priority; as such, all will be done to improve the sector.
The SUN or Scaling Up Nutrition is led by 60-member countries, and supported by thousands of stakeholders from civil society, private sector, United Nations agencies, donors and academia in a collective effort to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
It has mobilized an unprecedented political will to tackle under nutrition and improve the nutritional status of everyone, everywhere.
According to the latest (2018) Liberia Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey, there has been no significant progress in reducing stunting (impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition) over the last 10 years and stunting continues to affect around one-third of children under five years, with the average national prevalence rates of stunting (or too short for age) being 36 per cent in 2008, 35.6 percent in 2012, and 35.5 percent in 2018.
As a SUN country, Liberia is committed to reducing malnutrition through multi-sectoral strategies that address the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition. Liberia is also obligated to meeting the nutrition targets set at national, regional and international (SDGs) level.
Ms. Gerda Verburg works with the 60 country governments that lead the SUN Movement to strengthen political will to end malnutrition in all its forms and ensure all citizens can realise their right to good food and nutrition.