Food insecurity remains a persistent problem in Africa with increasing incidents of malnutrition amongst children worrisome.
This was revealed by delegates from the South African Development Community (SADC) who have gathered at the Phakalane Golf Resort for a one-week workshop to deliberate on ways of mainstreaming nutrition in national agriculture and food security investment in Africa.
Latest statistics show that nearly 200 million children and one in three women worldwide are malnourished.
SADC’s Deputy Executive Secretary Joao Caholo said poverty is one of the underling causes of under-nutrition. He said programs that mitigate poverty can contribute to addressing nutrition challenges.
Caholo pointed out that the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) states that the average per capita dietary energy supplies and protein have declined over the past 25 years in the region and that malnutrition among children under the age of five remains high in the region.
"It ranges from about 17 percent in South Africa to about 47 percent in Malawi," he said adding that the trend will make it difficult for the SADC member States to meet the RISDP goal of having reduced extreme hunger by the ye.
He said to address challenges of under-nutrition the SADC secretariat is facilitating the development of the Strategic Framework on Food and Nutrition (SFFN) 2013-2022. The priorities are aligned to those of the AU as well as to the Maputo Declaration on food and Nutrition. "Once approved and implemented the SFFN 2013-2022 will address malnutrition from a multisectoral approach."
Minister for Agriculture Christian De Graaff on the other hand noted that the theme of the workshop “Nutrition capacity development” is pertinent because it has been planned amid concerns that several countries in the region that are committed to accomplishing the Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty are not on track therefore poverty eradication targets are not likely to be realised.
De Graaff said there is usually lack of understanding and collaboration within the agricultural sector and the industry and therefore there are no linkages between agricultural production and the processing industry hence nutrition is not improved. "The workshop should therefore energies us and create momentum to intensify achievement of the MDGs as the 2015 deadline approaches."
He added that various factors that contribute to food and nutrition insecurity such as HIV/AIDS and gender issues should be taken into account considering their link to nutritional conditions of the society.
According to the State of Food Insecurity in the world 2012 report about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished in the period of 2010-2012. In Africa the number of underweight children has almost doubled since 1980 and is forecast to be 25 percent higher in 2015 than in 1990.