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ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire – Nutrition International affirmed its commitment to work with the African Union (AU) and its member states to achieve a shared objective of an Africa free from all forms of malnutrition. The organization participated in the AU High-Level Meeting on the Africa Year of Nutrition that was hosted by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) initiative, in Abidjan, from 6-8 December, 2022. 

During the opening ceremony, Dr. Richard Pendame, Regional Director, Africa for Nutrition International stated that the organization had committed to support the Year of Nutrition in three areas: 

  1. Strengthen the capacity of the African Union Commission to plan, launch and implement the Year of Nutrition activities
  2. Increase nutrition investments and accelerate progress on anaemia and adolescent nutrition through high level advocacy
  3. Improve the availability of quality data for decision-making 
A man sitting down holding a microphone faces the camera

“We need to focus on our long term vision – a continent that benefits from strong nutrition programs, well-coordinated nutrition systems, and populations who, supported by a foundation of good nutrition, are able to learn, earn and lead.

—Dr. Richard Pendame, Regional Director, Africa, Nutrition International

“The need for real action is great,” said Dr. Pendame as he noted that the current food crisis had left many women, adolescent girls and children without the vital nutrients they require to survive and flourish. “But we must go further, and focus not only on short term crises, but our long-term vision – a continent that benefits from strong nutrition programs, well-coordinated nutrition systems, and populations who, supported by a foundation of good nutrition, are able to learn, earn and lead.” 

Civil society organizations are transforming Africa’s nutrition landscape and empowering citizens to hold their leaders to account on their nutrition commitments. Through their programs, civil societies are paving the way for more gender responsive nutrition actions that address the barriers that many women and girls face.

A man facing the camera gives a speech
Joel Spicer, President and CEO of Nutrition International moderates a high-level session on Nutrition for Growth

Nutrition International’s President and CEO, Joel Spicer moderated a high-level session on Nutrition for Growth that involved representatives of AU member states, where he outlined four action points to address malnutrition in Africa:  

  1. Integrate food security and nutrition security into one indivisible concept: ‘food and nutrition security.’ While there is an emphasis on food, hunger, famine and food security, nutrition is often overlooked despite being critical in building a population’s resilience. There is need to talk about food and nutrition security together so as not to miss opportunities for impact. 
  2. Prioritize actions that have the highest impact for the lowest cost. There is the need to ensure that decision-makers have access to evidence and data that will allow them to identify policy choices and investments that will create the greatest good. Nutrition International is an expert ally supporting governments at national and sub-national level to strengthen data collection, connect to the latest evidence, support program design and build capacity.
  3. Focus much more on women, adolescent girls and children. Malnutrition is an intergenerational transfer of poverty. Prioritizing women’s nutrition is not only good for their health, but they will also give birth to healthier babies with stronger immune systems and better brain development. When children have access to adequate nutrition it is more likely that they will stay in school longer, and become more educated, which allows them to get better jobs with higher lifetime earnings – all of which drive economic growth and prosperity.
  4. Make nutrition political. Decision makers at highest level should realize that prioritizing nutrition is non-negotiable for a country to succeed in its ambitions. Malnutrition is blocking economic development and bankrupting health systems. Nutrition is a political issue and ending malnutrition is a political choice. 

 At the end of the high-level meeting, AU member states and partners adopted the Abidjan Declaration on the Africa Year of Nutrition 2022, in which they   strengthened their commitment to improve nutrition and food security in Africa.