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AfDB unveils multi-sectoral nutrition action plan to reduce stunting

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a new multi-sectoral nutrition action plan to increase investments to reduce stunting by 40 per cent in African children aged under five by 2025

Africa loses US$25bn per year in costs attributed to child morbidity and mortality, impaired cognitive, physical, and economic development caused by malnutrition. Yet, these losses are almost entirely preventable.

The bank stated in a statement that the ambitious action plan, which is in collaboration with Big Win Philanthropy and Aliko Dangote Foundation, seeks additional support and nutrition commitments from governments.

Jennifer Blanke, vice-president, Agriculture, Human and Social Development at AfDB, stressed the importance of engaging energetically and substantially with the private sector, “if we want to achieve long-lasting results.”

Through the action plan, the bank commits to scaling up the proportion of investments that are ‘nutrition-smart’ in agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, social and health sectors.

Jamie Cooper, chair and president, Big Win Philanthropy, commented, “In terms of human development, nutrition is as important as investments in infrastructure and power in stimulating economic growth. Big Win Philanthropy is thrilled with President Adesina’s leadership in giving greater priority to nutrition and the wider human capital investment agenda.”

Dangote Foundation CEO Zouera Youssoufou, added, “We know we cannot do this by ourselves, so it made sense to put money at the AfDB to develop this nutrition strategy. We are really happy to see the strategy come together following a two-year journey.”

The plan will focus on integrating nutrition-smart interventions into projects in the bank’s extensive agriculture pipeline. The action plan will also look into the potential to nourish Africa, by including commodity value chains that offer broad-based nutrition value, instead of just calories.

This will include leveraging flagship initiatives including Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), the Staple Crop Processing Zones Programme, and Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks, the bank explained.

To realise its human and economic potential, Africa must invest in nutrition - particularly during the 1,000 days between conception and the age of two - as a crucial foundation for productivity later in life, concluded Oley Dibba-Wadda, director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department, AfDB.