Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance has observed that funding to nutrition has continued to be undesirably low.
Alliance Country Coordinator William Chilufya said Zambia is today experiencing the double burden of Malnutrition where under-Nutrition affects overall growth in childhood and limits the development of full intellectual and physical potential of children.
Mr Chilufya added that over-Nutrition on the other hand has equally adverse effects that lead to non-communicable diseases such as High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Conditions among others.
“In essence, Malnutrition is devaluing the Zambia’s human capital. In spite of these challenges, the funding to Nutrition has continued to be undesirably low,” he said.
Mr Chilufya was speaking on Wednesday when he appeared before the Expanded Committee on Estimates of Revenues and Expenditures at parliament to analyze the 2015 National budget from the nutrition perspective.
“In our analysis of the 2015 budget we not that Government has adopted the Multi-Sectorial response to Malnutrition and, in line with this, funding to Nutrition specific and Nutrition sensitive interventions is spread-out along six 6 Key line ministries; namely Ministry of Community Development, Mother & Child Health, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives including the Ministry of Local Government and Housing and Ministry of Gender and Child Development. “
Mr Chilufya added, “We find that the size of the grand total of the national budget has increased by approximately 9% from 2014’s budget. Of this, around 0.1% constitutes spending towards Nutrition as a share of the National Budget. This represents a slight increase from nutrition spending in 2014 which was at 0.03% as a share of the national budget. Even with this increase is extremely low to make an impact on the nutrition crisis in Zambia.”
He said the Alliance specifically noted that funding to the National Food and Nutrition Commission has barely been increased to less than 0.74% from last year’s allocation.
“With the commencement of the Scaling up Nutrition initiative, for which we commend Government for taking a bold decision in mandating the NFNC with the responsibility to coordinate all line Ministries involved in Scaling up Nutrition.”
He continued, “This meagre budget allocation to the NFNC as a coordinating body demonstrates inadequate appreciation on the part of Government of the potential dangers exerted by undernutrition to national and economic development. It also does not give hope to the vulnerable groups – children and mothers – that in the near future the government will act favourably to addressing some of its commitments as recently made at the Nutrition for Growth summit to increase Nutrition funding by 20% annually.”
He revealed that Government Expenditure per Child under 2 Years is 4 Kwacha 5 Ngwee per child for direct Nutrition interventions in 2015.
“This is a slight increase from 2013 and 2014 which reflected 2 kwacha 4 Ngwee and 2 Kwacha 6 ngwee respectively. This falls short of the $30 (K189) spending per child per year commitment during the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013.”
He said, “We are glad to see ambitious commitments to reducing under Nutrition in important global declarations: Nutrition for Growth commitments, African Union Malabo Declaration. But we note a discrepancy between these international commitments and actual action on the ground, especially as regards to budgetary allocations going the national budgets on Nutrition.”
He charged that the alliance is concerned that both President’s address at the opening of Parliament and the Minister of Finance 2015 Budget address to parliament never had specific mention of the word Nutrition and yet nearly one in every two children is stunted in Zambia.