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13th AUC Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development convenes in Botswana

By Baboloki Semele

The 13th African Union Commission (AUC) Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) meeting will be held on 7-9 September 2022 in Gaborone, Botswana, culminating with a High-level National Launch of the theme of the Year on Nutrition, as a cascade of the launch performed during the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in February 2022.

The high-level launch will be hosted by the Government of Botswana on the 9th of September, 2022 with the Hon Minister of Health and wellness Hon Edwin Gorataone Dikoloti providing remarks on the Year of Nutrition.

Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon Edwin Gorataone Dikoloti

 

The African Union declared 2022 as the Year of Nutrition under the theme “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development”.

The declaration of 2022 as the Year of Nutrition is preceded by earlier commitments in 2014 when African Union member states committed to end hunger and reduce stunting to 10% by 2025 (Malabo Declaration) and in 2015, to end hunger, achieve food security, and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 2).

The theme which was launched during the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in February 2022 aims to celebrate gains made in nutrition and focus the continent on maintaining strong political momentum on nutrition.

According to a brief availed to this publication, the year 2022 further provides an opportunity to strengthen continental, regional, and national commitments to end malnutrition in all its forms, given the increase in morbidity and mortality related to malnutrition and the associated socio-economic impacts.

Expected dignitaries are different Ministers of the Botswana Government, the Executive Secretary of SADC, UNICEF Botswana, and Representative of the African Union Commission, African Union Development Agency for New Partnership for Africa’s Development, in addition to the 13th African Union Commission (AUC) Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND).

The 13th meeting of ATFFND is expected to attract 60 participants comprising representatives from AU member states, the AU Commission, NEPAD, Regional Economic Communities, African Development Bank, UN agencies, and close to 20 Senior government officials from Botswana. The African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) was established in 1987 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) the predecessor of the African Union (AU) in recognition of the importance of nutrition in socioeconomic development, the need to accelerate actions to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, and the importance of harmonizing policies and interventions, as well as strengthening collaboration among all stakeholders on the continent.

The ATFFND comprises the various AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), stakeholder organizations, United Nations Agencies (mainly UNICEF, WFP, FAO, WHO, and ECA), academia institutions and international organizations, and the AU Commission and AUDA-NEPAD (providing secretariat services).

The overall objective of the ATFFND Task Force is to provide guidance, support and make recommendations for the development of food and nutrition policies and programs at the continental, regional and national levels and to advocate and encourage Africa’s policymakers to prioritize food and nutrition security in national development. According to a concept note for the Botswana meeting, the Task Force met for the first time in 1987, after which it became dormant until it was reactivated in the late 1990s.

Since its reactivation, the ATFFND has had meetings in the following countries: Ethiopia (2009), Namibia (2011), Malawi (2012), Lesotho (2013), Kenya (2014), South Africa (2015), Ethiopia (2016), Senegal (2017), Burundi (2018), Equatorial Guinea (2019) and virtual meeting (2020).

At each meeting, participants exchanged views on the status of their agencies’ nutrition activities on the continent; reviewed the implementation of key continental commitments and strategies among them the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy, and reviewed the status of implementation of nutrition commitments made during past ATFFND meetings; and proposed actions to support nutrition policies and programs on the continent.

The 12th ATFFND held virtually in 2020, reviewed and strengthened the draft African Union Continental Nutrition Report which has since then been completed.

It is anticipated that at the end of the meeting, members of the ATFFND will adopt an updated roadmap of the activities of the theme of the year with a clear timeline and resources, a work plan of the Africa Regional nutrition strategy (2022-2025) and work plan of the African Union Nutrition Champion (2022-2024) as well as the recommendations for consolidation as to how to make progress with ongoing nutrition initiatives.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende