By Temitope Ponle
Abuja, Sept. 15, 2020 The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) have unveiled a position paper calling on African Heads of State and Governments to ensure that financing for nutrition is included in their country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plans.
The call was made in a statement from African Development Bank (AfDB) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The position paper titled: “Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery”, was sent to African member states by King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, an ALN “Nutrition Champion”.
The position paper recommended that countries maintained and increased the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition.
It also recommended that countries ensured there were no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 responses.
Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who is also an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion said: “As COVID-19 cases rise in Africa, the impact on nutrition and food systems cannot be denied.
“The threat of this new virus requires us to adopt new ways of looking and overcoming malnutrition.”
The paper also emphasised the role of high-level political leadership, in particular Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, as nutrition champions.
“The aim of the champions is to ensure that actions and economic stimulus packages developed to combat the pandemic are made available and affordable to all,’’ it said.
The AfDB noted that the pandemic had created major global health and economic shocks with unprecedented impacts on people’s health, nutrition and livelihoods.
The bank emphasised that to mitigate malnutrition in the continent, nutrition could not be left out of the COVID-19 response in Africa
It also noted that the pandemic was a chance for African leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitisation, advocacy and resource mobilisation efforts toward securing increased investments in nutrition.
The position paper forms part of the AfDB’s COVID-19 Response Facility to deploy financial and technical measures.
The facility aims to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Also, the ALN Secretariat is hosted by the bank to foster opportunities for high-level engagement to drive policy changes in Africa.