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ECOWAS Launches Regional Agenda for Integrating Nutrition into Agricultural Policies and Programs

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Launch of a regional agenda for integrating nutrition into Agricultural policies and programs
Launch of a regional agenda for integrating nutrition into Agricultural policies and programs

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened a pivotal hybrid meeting on Monday, May 20, 2024, to inaugurate the Regional Nutrition Agenda, marking a significant milestone in the region’s efforts to address nutritional challenges.

The event brought together key stakeholders to underscore the integration of nutrition into agricultural policies and strategies, signaling a concerted effort to combat malnutrition in West Africa.

In his opening remarks, Alain SY TRAORE, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, highlighted the alarming prevalence of stunting, wasting, and overweight among children under five in the region. These statistics, as reported by FAO et al. in 2022, underscore the pressing need to prioritize nutrition. Director Alain emphasized the region’s vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity, particularly evident during the lean season from June to August 2023, where around 42.5 million people were potentially classified as being in a “crisis or worse phase.”

To address this pressing issue, the agricultural sector embarked on a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the integration of nutrition into agricultural policies, strategies, and plans. This initiative aimed to create an enabling environment in ECOWAS Member States, Chad, and Mauritania.

In a goodwill message, Mr. Issouifou BAOUA, representing the EU-funded PAGR SANAD project, highlighted the collaborative efforts and support from various projects and organizations towards improving the nutritional landscape. The Regional Nutrition Agenda, endorsed by technicians, member states, and stakeholders, aims to enhance the agricultural sector’s contribution to improving nutritional outcomes by integrating nutrition into policies and strategies.

Mrs. Fatmata Lucia SEIWOH, ECOWAP/CAADP Monitoring & Evaluation Programme Officer, outlined the vision, objectives, and strategic priorities of the Regional Nutrition Agenda, emphasizing the eradication of malnutrition by 2030. The comprehensive action plan, presented at the event, delineates actionable steps and measurable targets to drive tangible improvements in nutritional outcomes.

The discussion provided a platform for participants to exchange insights and contribute to refining the action plan. Multi-sectoral collaboration and community involvement emerged as key themes underpinning the agenda’s success. Director Alain acknowledged the invaluable support of technical and financial partners, including CILSS, the European Union, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, UEMOA, and ROPPA, reaffirming ECOWAS’s commitment to addressing nutrition in the region.

In a symbolic gesture, Director Alain SY TRAORE officially launched the Regional Nutrition Agenda and action plan, representing President Omar Touray and Commissioner of Economic Affairs and Agriculture Massandje Toure-Litse. These documents will serve as foundational frameworks as the sector progresses towards its policy review in 2025, underscoring ECOWAS’s dedication to advancing nutritional well-being in West Africa.

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