The Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance is concerned that there has been no mention of nutrition in the 2020 National budget on how government intends to specifically deal with malnutrition.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Budget and Estimates Committee Chaired by Mbala Member of Parliament Mwalimu Simfukwe, the Alliance says this raises concern on prioritisation by government given that stunting levels are still high at 35 percent.
Making a Presentation, Alliance Member Mwandwe Chileshe said nutrition has only been catered for in the K1.1 billion allocated to the FISP/E-voucher programme which will not be enough to address the malnutrition challenges.
She noted with concern that of the K1.1 Billion allocated to the FISP Programme, K350 million is reserved to pay outstanding bills related to the FISP/E-Voucher programme which means that actual allocation to the programme next year has reduced almost by half.
Ms Chileshe said “more efforts should therefore be made to ensure that farmers diversify agricultural production by having access to diverse agricultural inputs, livestock, fruit tree saplings and vegetables to allow Zambians to have access to diverse foods”.
Ms Chileshe who is also Global Citizen Africa Lead of Food Security and Nutrition has since recommended that government should ensure availability and easy access to budget information on nutrition in key line ministries to avoid hampering timely analysis and accountability to ensure that Zambia achieves adequate food security and nutrition for all.
She has also recommended that government should continue to support multi-sectoral approach towards improving nutrition to ensure financial commitment of K400 per under 5 child annually.
Ms Chileshe added “Government should increase allocations to undernourished children under five especially given the context of rising food prices and support the diversification of the E-Vouchers system and allocate a percentage of the E-Voucher and Social Cash Transfer to the nutrition vulnerable.
And HIVOS Southern Africa Manager Sustainable Diets William Chilufya said to ensure that more money is allocated for Nutrition, the Food and Nutrition Bill should ensure that the Food Nutrition Commission is placed in the Office of the Vice President and not the Ministry of Health.
Mr Chilufya said nutrition covers a lot of sectors and leaving it in the Ministry of Health limits access to funding especially from government.
Meanwhile, CSO-SUN Country Cordinator Mathews Mhuru is worried that the 2020 national budget is not responsive to the findings of the Vulnerability and Needs Assessment report done by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit.
Mr Mhuru notes that this will make it difficult for government to combat Hunger next year in the 58 affected districts across the country.
He added that this worsen the alarming rates of malnutrition that Zambia is faced with.