Prime Minister Aires Ali emphasizes the need to overcome chronic malnutrition in order to achieve social and economic development goals

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MAPUTO, Mozambique, 4 May 2011 – At a seminar on economic development marking the 15-year anniversary of the United Nations University's World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), Prime Minister Aires Ali spoke about the Government’s strategy to promote social and economic development in Mozambique. The Prime Minister outlined the Government’s key objectives for social and economic development, which include promoting development at the district level; stimulating growth through technology transfer; increasing efficiency in the use of resources; harmonizing economic and fiscal policies; and increasing the amount of credit available for economic activity. Mr. Aires also emphasized that financial stability is key to achieving Mozambique’s development goals.

Having outlined the Government’s social and economic development objectives, the Prime Minister turned to the issue of chronic malnutrition, a problem which according to UNICEF affects 44 per cent of children in Mozambique and which remains a significant barrier to development.

“We are paying special attention to the issue of chronic malnutrition, and it is a key priority for the Government,” the Prime Minister said. “Chronic malnutrition increases the risk of disease and decreases both labor productivity and school performance,” Mr. Ali continued.

The Prime Minister emphasized the need for a multisectoral approach to address the issue. He said that the Government’s strategic plan to fight malnutrition covers water, sanitation, agricultural productivity, social welfare, education and health. “Without special attention to the issue of malnutrition, Mozambique will not reach the Millennium Development Goal targets,” the Prime Minister explained.

“We cannot talk about increasing economic productivity without addressing the issue of chronic malnutrition, and this is an area that deserves our undivided attention,” the Prime Minister said emphatically. "Educating the population in how to feed itself is a central element of the Government’s strategy to overcome chronic malnutrition, but we also need the collaboration and involvement of a wide range of non-governmental and civil society organizations in this effort. The more people that are involved in the fight against malnutrition, the better,” the Prime Minister concluded.

According to UNICEF, apart from the human cost, the economic cost of chronic malnutrition is very high, because malnutrition affects human capital, which in turn has an impact on a country’s long-term development. The underlying causes of chronic malnutrition include insufficient access to health services, hygiene and sanitation, and inadequate nutritional practices during pregnancy and early childhood.

In September 2010, the Council of Ministers approved a Multisectoral Action Plan for the Reduction of Chronic Undernutrition. The goal of the plan is to reduce chronic malnutrition from 44 per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2015 and to 20 per cent in 2020.

The plan includes relevant activities in health, agriculture, education, social welfare and other sectors. The Government’s commitment to the plan is very strong, and the various sectors, as well as the provinces, are developing their own plans within the broader framework of the national plan. In order to coordinate the implementation of the plan, a National Council for Food and Nutrition Security (CONSAN), chaired by the Prime Minister, was established. This structure is expected to facilitate coordination, monitoring and resource mobilization, allowing Mozambique to achieve food security and achieve the targets set for reduction in chronic malnutrition.

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: