Presenting a paper to the government of Ghana and presidential candidates in the upcoming December 7 polls, Siapha Kamara, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of sub-regional charity SEND West Africa, said it would take increasing investment by political leaders in the food production value chain to stem the tide of malnutrition in Africa.
A recent African Union Cost of Hunger in Africa study showed that Ghana, for instance, lost more than two billion U.S. dollars annually to the impact of child malnutrition.
The presentation was done in conjunction with the One Africa Project, a charity that partners the continental union to help eradicate poverty in Africa.
Kamara said at a press briefing on the expectations for African leaders that in Ghana, for instance, stunting was still high and impacted negatively on national development.
Although Ghana has done well by reducing stunting from an all high of 35 percent in 2003 to 19 percent in 2014, there is still much to be done,” he noted, explaining that stunting was a direct effect of malnutrition.
In spite of some policy initiatives and achievements, Ghana still has regional disparities in stunting rates as high as 32 percent in the Northern Region (province) and 23 percent in the Upper West Region, while seven out of 10 Ghanaian children suffer from Vitamin A deficiency, with seven out of 10 children and two out of five women being anemic.
According to the SEND official, there is still a lack of coherence in laws concerning food and nutrition in the country.
He stressed that the slow pace of national development had everything to do with malnutrition Ghanaians suffer from birth.
Kamara therefore urged the president and parliamentarians who will get elected during the December polls to commit to accelerating the implementation of aggressive plans to combat malnutrition as outlined in the AU’s Malabo Nutrition Commitment.
At their meeting in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, in June 2014, African leaders agreed among other things to uphold at least 10 percent public spending to double food production and reduce stunting to 10 percent by 2025.
Dorine Nininahazwe, The One Africa Project’s Representative to the African Union, lamented the alarming rate of malnutrition in Africa.
“Close to three million children die in Africa annually due to malnutrition,” she said, and wondered why this was so in a continent whose majority are engaged in farming.
Nininahazwe urged African governments to increase their nutrition specific spending according to their pledge in Malabo. Enditem