King Lestie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho who is the current African Union Nutrition Champion has called on African leaders to invest in nutrition to curb hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
“Ending malnutrition and giving children the best start in life requires more integration and sustainable investment from different sectors of our society,” King Letsie said.
He noted that Africa is the only continent globally where the number of stunted children has increased over the past 20 years.
Highlighting the need for increasing resources to improve nutrition and in turn social development, King Letsie affirmed his commitment to continued advocacy for adequate investment for Africa’s nutrition sector.
He was appointed as AU Nutrition Champion by African Heads of State and Government in 2014 and renewed his mandate for another two years, which ends in 2019.
The AU Nutrition Chairman’s work plan aims to advance the implementation of the revised Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy and provides a roadmap that outlines the role of the Commission and other stakeholders in the elimination of hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
He is expected to promote the AU’s Africa Renewed Initiative for Stunting Elimination in Africa (ARISE) and advocate for increased investment in nutrition which will include private sector engagement in nutrition initiatives, that build on the Cost of Hunger in Africa Studies.
The Champion will also render support to the AUC Chairperson’s initiative to address nutrition in areas of conflict and with humanitarian needs and support the Commission’s endorsed “Sustainable School Food and Nutrition Initiative” in order to scale up continental school feeding programs in partnership with FAO.
In their determination to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and famine on the continent and in addition to appointing the Nutrition Champion, African leaders have adopted a number of declarations, strategies and commitments.
These include the establishment of the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development, the Comprehensives African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) under the NEPAD initiatives which committed African Leaders to appropriate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture.
The Commission also has other initiatives such as Africa Renewed Initiative for Stunting Elimination in Africa (ARISE) which is aimed at having nutrition high on the development agenda of the continent by building awareness and fostering political commitment and resources to stunning elimination based on the results generated from the Cost of Hunger in Africa Studies.
King Letsie was speaking during a courtesy call on the AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat who on his part said improved nutrition would accelerate socio-economic development in Africa.