East African Civil Society Organisations Unite to Launch Global Nutrition Report

On 29 May 2015, the East Africa launch of the Global Nutrition Report was hosted in Dar es Salaam by the SUN Civil Society Networks of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Rwanda, along with government, UN representatives, donors, private sector, Tanzania political aspirants and media. The event brought together about 50 participants from six countries with active SUN Networks, and similar nutrition profiles, to highlight shared challenges and successes in working to defeat malnutrition in the region and chart a course for improved action on nutrition in the region.

The objectives of the roundtable were to:
• Review the Global Nutrition Report 2014 in comparison to the region’s status
• Enhance accountability on the East African situation and advocate for increased commitment and accountability towards nutrition

Across East African countries, stunting (short height for age due to chronic malnutrition) ranges from 1 in every 3 children to as high as 1 in every 2. Malnutrition has severe consequences on the survival and lifelong mental and physical abilities of individuals, and also on national economies. Despite this massive challenge, resources to nutrition-specific programs in East Africa amount to only a small fraction of national health budgets.East Africa GNR 1

“We are facing a chronic emergency that will not wait for our attention. For the healthy future of our countries and communities, we must act now and encourage the governments of our region to make political and financial commitments that match the scale of the challenge set before us,” said Dr. Aristide Madagasha of the Burundi Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN) at the event.

Dr. Million Shibeshi of the Ethiopia Civil Society Coalition - Scaling Up Nutrition (ECSC-SUN) further added that “Most East African countries are not on track to meet globally-agreed World Health Assembly targets on nutrition. In just one year the global community will come together at the second Nutrition for Growth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2016 to take stock of global progress. The East African community must make new and ambitious financial and political commitments to ensure we do not fall behind in efforts to defeat malnutrition.”

Addressing the participants, the chair of the Tanzanian Parliamentary Group on Food Security, Nutrition, and Child Rights Hon.Lediana Mung’ong’o urged East African leaders especially parliamentarians to ensure nutrition was at the top of their political agendas as parliamentarians can hold governments to account to provide for nutrition budgets. She further stated that if there are no nutrition champions in parliament, there is no voice for nutrition.

East Africa GNR 2The highlight of the event was the signing of a pledge by the Civil Society representatives to step up their commitment to achieve shared global nutrition targets by 2025 and to building momentum towards nutrition. They called on their governments to come to the table with new funding for nutrition and encourage other leaders to do the same.

While the Global Nutrition Report was released several months ago, it provided a useful evidence base for discussions during the event on what more is needed to meet shared targets. Participants agreed that cross-cutting discussions across the region are needed to reaffirm commitments to good nutrition. With just one year left before the next Nutrition for Growth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, now is the time to discuss what each of our countries can bring to the table.

 

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