Sunday, June 16, 2024

African governments urged to prioritise funding towards nutrition improvement – CSO-SUN

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A consortium of Civil Societies Organisations (CSO) advocating for improved nutrition and food systems in Zambia has expressed concern at the continued de-prioritisation of funds towards the sector in combating malnutrition on the African continent.

Civil Society Organisation on Scaling up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) Country Director, Mathews Mhuru says the just released report on the status of hunger in the world poses a challenge to Africa whose findings must be closely studied by stakeholders.

“It is surprising that the world hunger index continues to record an increase of hunger in the world and Africa in particular is greatly affected. This report just released should be taken seriously by African countries,” he said.

Mr Mhuru speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing AU Summit in Lusaka said in an interview with ZANIS that many donors and funders were reducing commitments towards supporting nutrition programmes and this is becoming a concern on its part.

He noted that there is need for African countries to move away from the tendency of depending on donor support for fighting malnutrition and agriculture development.

“We need to move away from depending on donor funding. This dependency syndrome is making it difficult to fight malnutrition and hunger effective” he stated.

He pointed out that a check in most budgets the organization has had an opportunity to look at Zambia inclusive, shows that funds towards the malnutrition fight was slowly reducing.

He said it was time member states on the continent took a lead to ensure that such programmes are locally driven and agendas are in line with aspirations to combat the continent’s social economic problems.

Mr Mhuru pointed out that the world hunger index report requires that Zambia and other countries must invest in improving agriculture so that its people are well fed and nourished.

He intoned that the increase in the number of hungry people in Africa was an indication that there is further need for coordination which has been lacking in the past.

Mr Mhuru emphasized on the need for continental bodies which include regional coordination agencies to work together and harmonise programmes so that there is synergy to tackle agriculture which will lead to improved malnutrition.

Mr Mhuru appealed to the government to increase resources so that the support from other partners and donors supplements its home agenda.

The CSO coordinator was reacting to the AU’s report on the status of fighting malnutrition on the African continent and its efforts to date.

Earlier the AU during a sideline event revealed that the World Bank has released 2. 3 billion United States dollars to the commission to support African countries respond to diseases and outbreaks such as locusts, fall army worms, climate change, cyclones and droughts.

AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko disclosed this during a press briefing to where she interpreted this year’s AU Mid-Year coordination summit theme adopted by organsiation.

Commissioner Sacko said the organsation is working with the Southern African Development Community and East African Community to enhance the response to emergencies and implement the programme.

The Commissioner further revealed the African Development Bank has released 1.2 billion United States dollars to set up food reserve facilities so as to avoid the crisis that is being experienced following the war between Ukraine-Russian war in Europe.

Ms Sacka disclosed that production of four cereals are being targeted namely wheat, maize, soya beans and rice.

She said the project which has since commenced across the continent will result in Africa having food reserves of 36 million tonnes by the end of four years.

The Commissioner was speaking during a press briefing to interpret the AU theme which is Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent on the sidelines of the AU MID YEAR coordination summit been held in Lusaka at Mulungushi International Conference .

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