Study shows nutrition still underfunded across the globe

Monday, December 14th, 2020 15:35 |
Graca Machel. Photo/Courtesy

Currently, nutrition receives low financial allocations from many governments across the globe, with some countries allocating as low as 0.1 per cent towards nutrition in their national budgets.

The second East and Southern Africa National Budget Commitment to Nutrition Report, released on Thursday, seeks to emphasise the importance of achieving nutrition objectives and nutrition-sensitive development planning

The report presents findings of the second regional budget analysis focusing on nutrition, commissioned by the Graça Machel Trust  and Care International through the East and Southern Africa Nutrition Civil Society Alliances (ESA CSN).

The study was carried out in eight East and Southern Africa countries: Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

“Parliamentarians have a critical role to play in consolidating the economic gains made by the country to change the lives of children and women in Africa”, states Ms Graça Machel. 

“MPs can make a difference individually and collectively by advocating and communicating the urgency to reduce malnutrition and stunting in households, communities, and the nation at large,” she adds. 

In terms of nutrition financing needs, a global average of US$7 billion per year will be required to reduce malnutrition through achieving global targets of stunting, anaemia in women, exclusive breastfeeding and the scaling up of the treatment of severe wasting.

The report notes that Kenya allocated $445m (Sh50b) of its 2020/21 budget to food and nutrition security, translating to 1.8 per cent and up from 1.6 per cent allocated in 2019/20. 

“It is sad to note that the trend has been unimpressive for the past eight years with the sector getting less than four per cent of the Total Voted Budget (TVB) since 2013/14,” states the report. 

“The situation is the same for county budgets where between 2013/14 and 2018/19 – nutrition received an average of $127.5m (Sh14b), implying that less than four per cent  was allocated to Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) except for the 2014/15 financial year where it got 5.2 per cent”.

Proper nutrition is noted as a pre-requisite for human growth and development and as an integral element for the social and economic development of the global village.

Adequate nutrition is critical for physical and intellectual development of an individual and is a major determinant of one’s intellectual performance, academic and professional achievement, and overall work productivity at later stages in life. 

“This directly and indirectly influences potential future gains and economic contribution of the individual to the national and global economy,” observes the report.

It further cites malnutrition as one of the major causes of and underlying factors for deaths of most children globally.

It occurs when there is an imbalance between a person’s nutritional intakes and his or her nutritional needs. 

The report notes that out of the eight countries, Kenya is the only one on track to achieving 2025 nutrition targets as it has managed to achieve about four out of eight targets reported – the highest number of targets to be achieved by a country in the cluster.

“This is further sub-divided as undernutrition which occurs when a person’s nutrition intake is less than the need and overnutrition which occurs when a person’s nutrition intake is more that the need.

Undernutrition manifests as wasting or low weight for height (acute malnutrition), stunting or low height for age (chronic malnutrition), underweight or low weight for age, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

The causes of undernutrition globally are manifold: repeated infections, diarrhoea, malaria, sub-optimal breastfeeding and infant feeding practices resulting in inadequate dietary intake 

“What we need to change is make sure that governments are taking their responsibility,” said Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

“Let’s not forget that better nutrition is a matter of political will. Let’s encourage politicians and candidates for the next parliament or government and make sure that its part of their campaign”.

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