By Byron Mutingwende
The Zimbabwe Civil Society Organisations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (ZCSOSUNA) has said that there was a need to develop a comprehensive plan on how, when and where its members could participate in the budget process annually to ensure that nutrition financing is addressed during budget formulation.
In 2001, the government of Zimbabwean government pledged to allocate 15% of its national budget to the health sector by signing the Abuja declaration. A policy brief based on the 2017 National budget analysis report revealed that theZimbabwean government needs to leverage additional domestic resources in order to end malnutrition in all its forms by increasing attention to, investment in both nutrition specific and sensitive interventions.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting at Monomotapa Legacy Hotel in Harare on Thursday to analyse the budget on nutrition financing in different government ministries in the 2017 Zimbabwean National Budget, Kudakwashe Zombe, the ZCSOSUNA Coordinator, said that resources should be increased towards community nutritional programs in order to improve the impact of interventions being undertaken at community levels.
“Specific budget lines which support implementation of national policies and strategies on nutrition should be set aside in future national budgets. That way it will become easier to track the implementation of the allocations and promote transparency. The National Nutrition Strategy requires US$1 932 00.00 for the implementation of activities to improve the quality of adolescent and maternal nutrition services,” Zombe said.
Zombe said that at least 3% of sector budgets should be allocated to nutrition, especially through the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Primary and Secondary Education, respectively.
Representatives attended the event from the civil society, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Food and Nutrition Council and different players in nutrition in the country.
Tendai Gunda, the Nutrition and Health Manager of Save the Children Zimbabwe, who is also the ZCSOSUNA Chairperson said that improving nutrition could completely transform the lives of women, children and future generations in the country.
It emerged that the slowdown in economic growth has had an adverse effect on revenue performance. Having reached a peak of 3.93 billion in 2014, budget revenues declined to 3.54 billion in 2015 and 3.85 billion in 2016. In 2017, the government anticipates to collect revenue of 3.7 billion against an expected expenditure of 4.1 billion, thus a financing gap of 400 million.
Budget allocations for the past 3 years on health, were far less than 15% of the total budgets as recommended by the Abuja Declaration to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. It was observed that there has been inconsistency in the allocations going to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) over the past 3 years. The analysis revealed that 6.57%, 8.3% and 6.9% of the nation’s budget has been allocated to the ministry in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. The 2017 budget allocation was reduced by 1.4 percentage points from the 2016 estimates. It is sad to note that in 2017 approximately 80%of the allocation to MoHCC will be for staff salaries and only 20% will be for non wage expenditure including nutrition investment.
It was noted that the 2017 National budget prioritises the agriculture sector with a total allocation of 291.6 million proposed, covering key activities related to the following strategic grain reserve – 112.5 million, input schemes-102 million, supportive personnel/employment costs-47.3 operations 8million among others. The above allocation together with other agriculture related expenditures incurred during 2016 amounting to 148.8 translates into total agriculture support towards the 2016/17 season of 440.4 million (10.7%of national budget). The level of support is in line with the 2003 Maputo declaration by African heads and governments on committing at least 10% of national budgetary resources to the sector.
Joseph Gondo, the Principal Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development said that ZCSOSUNA should scale up its visibility in rural communities by encouraging the growing of a varitey of nutritious crops to ensure a balanced diet. He also called for an increase in visibility through collaboration with the media.
Fiona Mwashita from the Community Initiatives for Sustainable Development (CISDE) said the Ministry of Finance should fund nutrition adequately since a healthy nation is productive and contributes to social and economic development.
The Community Capacity Building Initiative Centre for Africa (CCBICA) is one organisation making huge strides in promoting the scaling up of nutrition and environmental conservation. Rodreck Dick, the CCBICA Director said that he believes in one spared space of action to achieve the desired results. In that context, his organisation has set up nutrition centres where they educate guests at hotels, and engage stakeholders like people in local communities, the UN and government offials, among others.
“We sensitise people on the importance of the four-star diet. This comprises legumes, staples, fruit and vegitables as well as animal source foods. We train and encourage rural and urban communities to grow their own food to raise income, be food secure and more resilient against shocks. At the moment we have a partnership with the Rainbow Tourism Group where we showcase our products at our nutrition centres. These centres are available in Bulawayo, Kadoma, Harare and the surrounding districts,” Dick said.