Dakar Global Nutrition Report Presentation

I recently participated in a regional conference on the theme: “What answers to the remaining challenges of the fight against undernutrition in West Africa?” organized by Action Contre la Faim (ACF), SUN secretariat and UNICEF on June 18, 2015 in Dakar, Senegal. More than 40 participants from SUN Civil Society Alliances in West Africa attended the meeting with the aim of strengthening their capacities on advocacy and were provided a forum to exchange best practice and progress made in each country of the sub-region.

The issues discussed by the group were: (1) the need for more information on cost – benefit analysis for investing in nutrition; (2) how do we explain the lack of efficacy of policies and programmes in reducing under-nutrition in West Africa? (3) How do we explain the situation of the countries on course for WHA nutrition targets on under-five overweight while these countries may not have specific programmes for addressing overweight/obesity? (4) the prevalence of undernourishment and linkages with food aid?

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The presentation of GNR 2014 highlighted that the West Africa Region as a whole achieved the MDG target 1c related to halving the prevalence of hunger by 2015, with the prevalence of undernourishment reduced from 24% to 10% between 1991 and 2015, and the number of undernourished people reduced by 24.5% (SOFI 2015). The estimated number of undernourished people in West Africa is 33.7 million in 2015. Seven out of fifteen West African countries have made a tremendous effort in reducing the prevalence of undernourishment. West Africa’s success in achieving the MDG 1c target resulted from several key national and regional drivers including the effectiveness of political leadership and governance, the implementation of pragmatic policies and programmes, and the right balance of effort between humanitarian and development interventions. These efforts are supported by a number of regional policy initiatives including ECOWAS zero hunger and the Malabo declaration with its implementation plan and roadmap.

This success is unfortunately not yet translated into the improvement of nutritional outcomes. No country in West African is on course to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA) 2025 nutrition targets related to under-five stunting and women of reproductive age anemia. Only Liberia and Togo are on course to achieve the WHA target related to reducing wasting to less than 5% while eight countries are on course to achieve the WHA nutrition target related to under-five overweight. The recommended actions of the 2014 GNR shared with the participants and the framework for action of the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition could serve as opportunities to accelerate efforts in improving the coverage of both nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions with more focus at the community level.

Mohamed Ag Bendech, Senior Nutrition Officer for the FAO Regional Office for Africa is a member of the Independent Expert Group of the Global Nutrition Report.