The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) have unveiled a position paper calling upon 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 position paper, titled "Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery", was sent to African member states by His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, an ALN "Nutrition Champion".
Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery recommends that countries maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition, and ensure there are no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 responses.
The paper emphasizes the role of high-level political leadership, in particular Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, as Nutrition Champions. The Champions aim to ensure that actions and economic stimulus packages developed to combat the pandemic include plans to secure healthy and nutritious foods are made available and affordable to all.
The pandemic has created major global health and economic shocks, with unprecedented impacts on people's health, nutrition and livelihoods. As a result, Africa is experiencing negative economic growth, primarily as a result of the sharp decline in productivity, jobs and revenues. At the same time, recent data shows that Africa has the highest prevalence of malnutrition and may soon overtake Asia as the region with the fastest-growing number of hungry and undernourished people.1 Nutrition cannot be left behind in the COVID-19 response in Africa.
"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," said former President of Ghana John Kufuor, an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for Africa's leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitization, advocacy and resource mobilization efforts towards securing increased investments in nutrition.
Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery forms part of the African Development Bank's COVID-19 Response Facility to deploy financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The African Leaders for Nutrition Secretariat is hosted by the Bank to foster opportunities for high-level engagement to drive policy changes in Africa.