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Central Africa is gearing itself up for the follow-up to the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition

Seven countries commit to place food and nutrition security at the heart of public policy development in Central Africa

(© FAO Photo)

2 October 2015, Libreville – The issue of food insecurity and malnutrition affects the health of vulnerable populations, especially children.  This is one of the key outcomes of a sub-regional meeting, held in Libreville, Gabon, from 30 September to 2 October 2015.

This event takes place within the framework of the follow-up of the implementation of the recommendations made during the International Conference on Nutrition held in Rome in November 2014. It is organized by the Sub-regional Office for Central Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Addressing the meeting, in presence of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Health, the Ministers of State in charge of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, as well as representatives of international and sub-regional organizations, Gabonese Prime Minister, Dr. Daniel Ona Ondo, stressed the need to define the collective vision of the countries in the sub-region for the period 2015-2017, for an inclusive development of nutrition. “The issue of food and nutrition security must be at the heart of public policy development in Central Africa”, he stated.

Recognizing the importance of nutrition

The participants at the Libreville meeting were urged to “strongly advocate for resource mobilization to help in the implementation of the recommendations and commitments made at the 2ndInternational Conference on Nutrition. In fact, “without appropriate investments, the quality of nutrition cannot be improved”, concluded Prime Minister Daniel Ona Ondo. 

In the current context, African countries have to step up their efforts because “despite the strides made in the fight against malnutrition, progress has been insufficient and uneven. Malnutrition remains one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality on the continent,” said Prof. George Ki-Zerbo, WHO Inter Country Support Team Coordinator for Central Africa (IST / CA). 

Although a systemic approach to nutrition is important, complementary actions are also needed in other sectors. These include nutrition education and information, direct intervention of health systems and other health services to promote nutrition, water supply, sanitation and hygiene, food security, social protection, trade and international investments, said Prof. Ki-Zerbo.

In contrast to the quantitative approach to nutrition based on food security, developed in recent years, the current context shows that “regardless of the scope of the concept of food security, it is not a guarantee to nutrition security,” added Dan Rugabira, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Central Africa and FAO Representative in Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. 

Some sub-regions, including West Africa, have made good progress in the fight against hunger. According to FAO estimates, much less has been done in Central Africa compared to the other sub-regions, because its undernourished population will increased by 143,7% between 1990-1992 and 2014-2016.

 Faced with this disturbing picture, and given the enormous agricultural potential in this part of the continent, it is imperative to put nutrition at the heart of development priorities. This requires, among others, “the promotion of balanced diets and nutrition education as a factor of wellbeing and wellness,” said Mrs Clothilde Nizigama, Deputy Secretary-General of ECCAS. 

“It is therefore urgent that a strong political and high-level commitment be expressed and translated into policies and actions so that nutrition programs be developed and strengthened in our region, through a suitable National Policy on Nutrition, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the other development objectives and strategic frameworks that are underway in our countries,” she added.

 Working in synergy to achieve goals

At the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) jointly organized by FAO and WHO, governments and representatives from over 170 countries pledged to eliminate malnutrition in the world. In addition, the recommendations made during the ICN2 focus on policies and high-value investments in the nutrition security for the populations.

Development partners and United Nations agencies present at Libreville were asked to contribute more to the investments and activities which aim at improving the nutrition security of the populations in Central Africa. 

Since nutrition is multidimensional, mobilizing Ministries and other institutions is necessary for its integration into development priorities. Indeed, it appears that strengthening their financial and technical support capacity will help implement the commitments on nutrition. 

At the end of the sub-regional meeting on Friday 2 October, a roadmap has been set out with a mechanism to monitor its implementation.

 

Useful links:  

ICN2

CAADP

REACH/SUN

UNGNA

Nutrition in the SDGs/UNSCN

www.globalnutritionreport.org

30 octobre, 2015: Journée africaine de la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle (Ouganda) ((http://nepad.org/conferences/6th-africa-day-food-and-nutrition-security)

 

Contact:

Hyacine Kacou-Amondji, Chargée de communication, Bureau sous-régionale Fao pour l’Afrique centrale : Hyacine.KacouAmondji@fao.org

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