Nine African Countries To Scale Up National Budgets For Nutrition To End Malnutrition .

By Nevson Mpofu

Eastern and Southern Africa CSA SUN [Civil Society Alliance Scaling Up Nutrition] launched a Report called Eastern and Southern Africa [ESA] National Budget commitment to NUTRITION today 20 September in the City of Harare. This was launched amid certainty that if the 9 countries in the Alliance work in unison poverty in pregnant and lactating women and in children can be alleviated if not eliminated.

The nine [9] Member States are Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan , Tanzania , Zambia and Zimbabwe . A Civil Society Expert in Nutrition speaking in Harare, Kudakwashe Zombe said member States should engage with their respective Governments to increase their Investments in Nutrition by a Budget Allocation of 3% .

He further elucidated that the Report launched help Civil Society Leverage on Government Investments. Such Investments lead to the decrease in Malnutrition a severe problem he highlighted is rampart in Africa as a whole. Malnutrition is accompanied by diseases like Kwashiorkor, pellagra, marasmus, scurvy and to a Health condition called STUNTING.

In continuation, he said in Zimbabwe ZICOSUNA as Nutrition Civil Society advocates for that 3% budget increase in order to contain the problem of Malnutrition. In addition, he pointed out that there is need to Invest in Nutrition as a country. This , he said is done for the sake of  taking care of new born babies , neonatal who lactates from mothers . As they grow they breastfeeds up to 100 days from health mothers.  Babies feed up to 1000 days before they grow to be children spared from neo-natal, infant and child mortality.

‘’African countries face the severe burden of Malnutrition. However, there is urgent need for countries to increase budget in Nutrition so as to cast and bury Malnutrition,

‘’Malnutrition is alarmingly increasing in many African countries because these lack commit, or take a small budget in Nutrition. Budgetary allocations can only be increased through access to Statistics and Recommendations in the Report’’.

Although, there were some notable reductions in stunting rates in some countries between 2015 and 2018, the numbers remain high. Across the 9 countries, a total of 14, 8 million children under 5 years of age are stunted.

The Nutrition Expert touched on each country stating clearly that more is needed in terms of Resources in Finance, Knowledge, Information and Qualitative Research. According to the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Report Study, Madagascar has the highest rate of Malnutrition; 47,3% children under five [5] years are stunted . Kenya has lowest stunting rates at 26%. The median for the 9 countries is 37,6%

‘’There were reductions in stunting rates in some countries between 2015 and 2018. With many countries, this has been the work of Civil Society. Some countries developed National policies. Zimbabwe however got a little funding in line with Nutrition. Part of the funding is from its Government.

‘’In-Order to reduce poverty  we  increase Economic and development Growth .There is need to lobby the Government to improve on the Issues of Budget increase focusing specifically on  Nutrition so as to reduce or otherwise in the near long term eliminate Stunting related to Mal-Nutrition’’ , he said .

Across the 9 countries, a total of 14,8 million children under 5 years are stunted . Stunting refers to the state whereby a child is shorter than his or her actual age. This happens normally with children who breastfed for a short period like 6 to 1 year. Later in life they lack nutritious food. This results in Chronic Malnutrition.

A key Legislator Champion in Nutrition, Thobekhile Khumalo pointed out that countries have to work towards Budget increase in the AREA of Nutrition. She also urged Communities to work with Legislators in their constituencies so that they can address these issues related to Malnutrition.

‘’Parliamentarians must spend more time now talking on best practices to eradicate Malnutrition. This increases poverty in many communities. The only weapon to end Malnutrition is to increase the budget. Secondly, it is vital to make every Ministry be part of the Nutrition Movement.

‘’This alone reduces poverty. It works since by end of day we are left without Communicable diseases like those we know are linked to ‘’, Malnutrition, she said

A Ministry of Health and Child Care official, Anankariah Chigumira , Director in the Department of Nutrition said the Government has made a lot of promises in terms of budget increase on Nutrition but , nothing came ,

‘’They are just figures. We just get a small figure which does not help by end of the day. Governments in Africa, especially in relation to ours must dwell strongly on this issue. We are behind in terms of Nutrition budget. Let us know we are behind on the important issue that makes us what we are,’’.

It has been concluded that the Nutrition Status is Low. Therefore Countries need support from the Civil Society. At the same time countries must help themselves become better than to wait for Civil Society Organizations.

Regarding the Report Kenya has the Largest Gross Domestic Product of US 80,8 Billion . In 2015 it allocated only 0,20% of its Gross Domestic Product on Nutrition.  It got 60,6% of funding from Donors . It spent US 13,67 of it PER CHILD against  the US 30 Dollars as per child .

Madagascar made positive strides on stunting. It was reduced from 56% recorded in 2015 to 47,3% in 2018 . However it has the highest Stunting Rate. In 2015 its GDP stood at US 10,87 billion . On Nutrition it spent 0,47% . Funding, 73,7% was from Donors .

By 2015 Malawi had a GDP of US 6,45 billion . 15,4 was spent on Nutrition . It got a budget of US1,25 Billion . It spent 11,5% on Nutrition .. Its spending per child was US2,42 compared to Donor share of US30,68 . In addition Donors gave 92,7% .

Mozambique in 2015 had stunting rate of 38% . .It had a GDP of us 11,615 million of which 0,78% was spent on Nutrition . 85,2% came from Donors . It spent US2,71 on each child . Rwanda economy recorded US8,6 Billion , 2015 . 0,95% was put on Nutrition . It has the highest rate of Malnutrition with stunting at 43% . It spends 1,12% on Nutrition . 0,80% was from Donors . It spends US 9,48 on every child . It is hard fighting to contain Malnutrition by supporting the 1st 1000 days.

The most economic fragile Country among these , South Sudan in 2015 recorded GDP of US 3004 Million , 8,43% was invested in Nutrition . It spent US0,15 on each child . Tanzania has Stunting rate of 37% for children under 5 years .  In 2015 its GDP was US53,I billion . Investment was still low . For example on its 2015 national budget of US13,4 Billion , only US127,3 million was committed to nutrition . It budgeted US12,29 for each Child .

Zambia. Stunting is at 40% representing 1,22 million children under 5 years of age ..Its GDP recorded US26,3 billion . Of this , 0,24% was spent on Nutrition .. Per Child it spent US5,87 cents . Much little is allocated on Nutrition up to now .Zimbabwe has Stunting rate of 32%  representing 0,84 million children under 5 years . . Latest 2018 data shows a decline to 27,6% . In 2015 , its Economy recorded GDP of US17,6 Billion . In 2015  , the same year out of national budget of US3,5 Billion , 0,47% was allocated to Nutrition . All the countries are still below the US30 dollars needed for each child in order to stamp down malnitrition.

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