Thursday, 2 April 2015

African Union Nutrition Experts Call for the Implementation of Nutrition Declarations
A meeting of the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) aimed at advocating for food and nutrition security to be prioritized in the socio-economic development framework of the continent has opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The experts at this meeting will deliberate on potential strategies to intensify commitment of leaders and strengthen policies, programs and institutional capacity to counter hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
Delivering the keynote address, a Representative of the Government of South Africa, Ms Lynn Moeng, Chief Director of Health Promotion and Nutrition at the National Department of Health expressed concerned with the nutrition-related challenges that exist in Africa. She reminded stakeholders to implement the declarations that already exist before adopting new ones.
Speaking on behalf of the African Union Commission, the Acting Head of Division of the Health, Nutrition and Population Division, Dr. Mabvuto Kango, took stock of achievements made in improving nutrition in Africa and highlighted the opportunities available. After reminding stakeholders that ATFFND is the body mandated by the AU Assembly to coordinate nutrition activities in Africa to serve as its advisory, he urged stakeholders to take advantage of the availability of this taskforce.
On behalf of UN agencies, Mr. Thomas Yanga, the Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) Liaison office to the AU and UN ECA, reiterated the problem of stunting in Africa and thanked stakeholders such as the AU Commission for prioritizing nutrition-related issues. Whilst acknowledging the contribution of agriculture counterparts, he called upon stakeholders in nutrition to utilise on-going initiatives such as the ‘Cost of Hunger Study’ and the school feeding programmes, to address the situation.  
During the two-day meeting, nutrition experts from AU Member States will review progress in the revision of the African Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS), and consider potential roadmap for implementing the strategy from 2015 to 2025. Taking place just before the 11th Partnership Platform meeting of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), experts at this ATFFND meeting will also receive updates and discuss the mechanisms to mainstream nutrition in the Agricultural policies and investment plans of the continent. In addition, the Taskforce will also be updated on other nutrition initiatives on the continent, including the AU led study on the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA), the Africa’s Renewed Initiative for Stunting Elimination (ARISE) and the Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership Programme (ANSP), all aimed towards seeking to raise awareness, generate momentum for increased investment and ultimately improve nutrition security in Africa. The experts will also map out nutrition initiatives that will be undertaken in 2015 to support the AU’s Year of Women’s Empowerment and look at ways to unpack some of the global declarations (such as the 2014 Rome Declaration) in the context of Africa.
The Task Force which consists of experts from various organizations in the continent (AU, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Regional Economic Communities, governments, United Nations, civil society organizations, academic and research institutions and the private sector) has a mandate to guide and support the development of food and nutrition policies and programs on the continental, and to advocate as well as to convince Africa’s policy-makers to prioritize food and nutrition security in socio-economic development. The ATFFND also provide a platform for effective networking and sharing information, as well as promote and guide research to advance nutrition and food security across Africa.
The ATFFND was endorsed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union, in its Resolution AHG/Res.224 (XXIX) of 1993.
The recommendations from the meeting will be put forward for deliberations and endorsement to the AU’s Specialized Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drugs Control gathering next month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.