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Pan African Parliament, AUDA-NEPAD pushing for continent’s food and nutrition security

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is pushing legislation toward the promotion of food and nutrition security on the continent as evidenced by a model law on the theme that it tabled during the first session of its sixth Parliament in Midrand, South Africa while the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) is leading the awareness of the initiative among various stakeholders.

In a similar fashion, the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) spearheaded the 13th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) which was commemorated in a hybrid format (both physically and virtually through video links) on 1st November 2022 at the African Union (AU) Headquarters under the theme “Action towards Eradicating Malnutrition and Poverty: An Integrated Approach for Resilient Food, Health and Social Protection Systems”, which is aligned with the 2022 Year of Nutrition – “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 celebration of the 13th ADFNS was preceded by five side events on 31st October and 1st November 2022 and four thematic Technical Dialogues that featured four parallel sessions focusing on showcasing work done that has the potential to benefit the agenda for building resilient nutrition and food security.

It placed a special priority on tackling some key strategic drivers of malnutrition issues across the continent and rallies an important “call to action” by national and regional entities to enhance resilience to shocks and stressors that burden Africa, including bringing into synergy agro-food systems, health, human capital, and socioeconomic development.

The event brought together over 100 participants and guests, representing a broad range of stakeholder organizations, including representatives of national governments, regional organizations, international, multilateral organizations, civil society, private sector, and media organizations, was led by the African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

Collaborating in the event were: the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), UN- Nutrition, Nutrition International (NI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), African Development Bank (AfDB), HarvestPlus, International Potato Center (CIP), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), The Youth Consortium, Africa Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), the Africa Global Health Institute, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Family Health International (FHI).

The Technical Dialogue sessions involved stakeholders sharing experiences and lessons learned from efforts and initiatives aimed at strengthening the resilience of food, health, and social protection systems to reduce levels of malnutrition and improve the well-being and livelihoods of Africans.

This year’s ADFNS, for the first time, attracted the participation of seven new stakeholders, including UN Nutrition, ICIPE, Amref Health Africa, Africa Global Health Institute Family Health International, and ICRC who contributed substantially to the technical dialogues and exhibitions by sharing their experiences and contributions in building resilient livelihoods, health, and nutrition on the continent.

The first side event titled “Role of youth as human capital agents towards transformative and resilient agro-food systems in Africa”, by The Youth Consortium, inter alia, aimed at meaningfully engaging the youth to play an active role in the food systems transformation agenda, and building the capacity of the youth population in accessing opportunities such as green jobs across the food value chains.

The second side event titled “Data and analytics for improved decision-making on food security and nutrition”, by WFP, showcased some of the tools for guiding policymakers and practitioners on effective food security and nutrition action, building on lessons learned and exploring their potential in overcoming challenges across the continent. The side event concluded with a call to development partners to collaborate with AU Member States to promote increased awareness, uptake, and use of key analytical tools and approaches to support effective decision-making, implementation, and accountability across the continent from understanding the costs of inaction to identifying bottlenecks across systems as well as strategies to overcome them.

The third side event titled “On the road to 2030: Putting the UN Nutrition Strategy into practice during the age of intersecting crises”, by UN Nutrition, was principally aimed at launching the UN Nutrition Strategy (2022−2030) with a special focus on how it supports nutrition objectives in Africa.

The fourth side event on “Learnings from South-South Dialogues on Stunting among Four Countries in Africa”, convened by Amref Health Africa and Africa Global Health Institute shared lessons from South-South dialogues on stunting among four African countries (Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi, and Nigeria) with experiences and reflections on advancing key priorities towards a further reduction in stunting rates.

The fifth and last side event “Tackling anaemia in Africa”, by Nutrition International (NI) and World Health Organization (WHO), showcased the work WHO has been leading for an integrated initiative on anaemia prevention and management for the development of a global action plan (GAP) on the prevention and management of anaemia.

The first technical dialogue under the theme Innovative approaches for transforming and strengthening the resilience of Africa’s agro-food systems”, led by FAO, covered four presentations on different topics, including shared experiences of private sector actors on biofortification and food fortification; contribution of insects to improved nutrition security, livelihoods and environment; available tools for tracking nutrition investment in Africa; and strategic partnerships and private sector engagement for nutrition. The session also featured presentations from panelists who shared their experiences and insights on building resilience to food and nutrition security.

The second technical dialogue focused on Strengthened health systems for improving resilience against malnutritionwhere case studies, innovations in health service delivery, the use of digital technologies in health systems, and innovative approaches for improving early childhood development were discussed. The session also featured panel presentations on health service delivery, the nexus between strong health systems and resilient nutrition, innovative actions for building resilience through health systems, and possible scenarios to assure the quality of Africa’s health.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende