The Malabo Declaration, agreed upon by the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in June 2014, has committed, in addition to other goals, to decrease stunting by 10% and underweight by 5% in Africa by 2025. To develop plans and strategies to meet this goal, it is important to take stock of the previous and ongoing work on nutrition. On October 8,2014, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) hosted a side event at the annual Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) meeting, held at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event, moderated by John McDermott (Director of A4NH) and facilitated by Summer Allen, Research Coordinator in the Markets Trade and Institution Division of IFPRI, brought in a panel of experts to discuss “Targeting and Measuring Nutrition Impacts across the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Results Framework”. The Results Framework of CAADP is currently being revised for 2015-2025; ReSAKSS provides data to facilitate monitoring under this Framework. ReSAKSS is facilitated by IFPRI, the AUC, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), and the leading regional economic communities.
Given ReSAKSS’s role to track progress on the CAADP indicators, it is important to agree upon the proper nutrition indicators so they can be tracked and reported in a consistent manner. Members of the CAADP Nutrition Capacity Development Initiative participated in the October event, as did multiple members of the ReSAKSS community. The event featured a presentation from Dr. Namukolo Covic of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department of North-West University in South Africa. She spoke about the importance of making progress on undernutrition in Africa and emphasized the need to track both direct and indirect indicators through the CAADP Results Framework in order to have the desired impact on nutrition. She also discussed the need for CAADP to deliberately find synergies with other existing nutrition initiatives, such as Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), to avoid duplication of effort and emphasized the important role of "agriculture as the foundation for nutrition".
Mr. Kambaila Munkoni from UNDP, Lusaka (and formally of the National Statistics Office in Zambia), spoke about opportunities and challenges for nutritional monitoring and implementation at the country level. He provided examples of surveys that currently track nutrition and health indicators, the various methods for collection, and the political context in Zambia. He called for additional collaboration with the various institutions involved in monitoring and program implementation. Finally, Dr. Mesfin Beyero, a public health and nutrition expert in Ethiopia, spoke about the experiences and lessons learned from Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in East Africa (LANEA). He provided a background of the agricultural and nutritional linkages in terms of the state of the knowledge as well as the challenges that exist for nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs. Dr. Beyero noted the need for more analytical work to provide an evidence base for future program planning.
John McDermott also led a panel discussion on a range of topics including how to better integrate nutrition into program plans, how to cope with capacity challenges and provide training, and what support countries need as they move forward with the next decade under CAADP. The panel also included Johanna Jelensperger, a program officer on food security and nutrition at the FAO and a member of the CAADP Nutrition Capacity Development Initiative.
The panel reached agreement on the following points that could be applied at the country level:
- Additional coordination among ministries is needed to support any agreements that are made;
- Capacities need to be scaled-up to implement the nutrition objectives under CAADP;
- Additional awareness campaigns should be partnered with the supply and access to nutritious food;
- Nutrition should be included in education programs so that long-term shifts can be assured.
Many of these recommendations also apply at a regional level and it was agreed that collected information on nutrition should be more widely available and utilized at the regional and continental levels.