By Boitshepo Bibi Giyose
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.18 August 2011 – The African Union (AU) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, convened a special consultation of the Steering Group of the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day as part of a plan to firm up the implementation of activities that will lead up to the continent-wide commemoration of the Day on October 30th. The statistics of Africa’s food insecurity and compromised nutritional status are staggering and well known. Over 200 million Africans are undernourished and an even greater proportion suffers from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
However, there is hope that the fight against malnutrition can be won.
The opportunity for intra-African trade of agriculture food commodities that are of high value and nutritionally sound is immense. What needs to be done at the earliest opportunity is to apply some of the more relevant indigenous knowledge systems around the best nutrition, as has been done for generations. But more importantly, the time is ripe for scaling up proven interventions.Therefore, one of the main goals and objectives of Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day is to ensure that information and knowledge is transmitted and communicated to all the different levels of consumers - policy makers, progamme implementers and all the vulnerable households.
Given the challenges of poor research and policy translation into action and tangible results coupled by weak capacity in many member states and the evidently low investments in nutrition programmes, this can only lead to malnutrition. So, the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day provides an opportunity for changing the status quo and ensuring a robust accountability mechanism. The Day will showcase the potential for adequately linking agriculture and nutrition value chains. Therefore, recognising the richness of Africa’s traditional and indigenous nutritious food commodities, educating the public on the best utilisation, sharing success stories on progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition in Africa is imperative.
While there may be challenges, there clearly are models to be learnt from and emulated. This will take a concerted effort across all Government sectors, Private sector, Civil Society Organisations, Development partners, Institutions of Higher Learning and the average African to commit and contribute towards delivering and attaining the best nutrition for all.
The commemoration will be at two levels, continentally and at the level of member states. The activities will focus on 4 main flagship areas; dietary diversity, homegrown school feeding, maternal and child nutrition and food fortification.
“If Africa does not invest in food and nutrition security, the consequences will be big…” says Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, Senior Advisor for Food and Nutrition Security at the NEPAD Agency.
“This is the time for Africa, the energy is palpable, the momentum and support is promising, hence, let’s seize the DAY! “, she adds enthusiastically
Ms. Boitshepo Bibi Giyose is the Senior Advisor for Food and Nutrition Security at the NEPAD Agency