African Development Bank (AfDB) has urged African leaders to take urgent actions that would rescue the continent’s economy from stagnation owing to hunger and malnutrition.
The Media Relations Officer of AfDB Solange Kamuanga- Touassou, made this known in a statement in Abuja at the inauguration of the Continental Nutrition Accountability Scorecard to raise awareness and end malnutrition.
Kamuanga-Touassou said that the event was also to reinforce commitments by African governments to help wipe out malnutrition from the continent.
He disclosed that the programme was co-hosted by the president of AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and His Majesty King Letsie III, of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The AfDB official said the event was on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa.
He quoted Adesina as urging the leaders not to fold their arms and do nothing while African economies crippled.
“We can no longer afford to watch helplessly as our economies get crippled and suffer stagnation owing to hunger and malnutrition. As responsible leaders, the onus is on us to take action.
“We must change how we look at the problem of malnutrition. The greatest contributor to economic growth is not physical infrastructure but brainpower, what I refer to as “grey matter infrastructure.’’
“While it is obvious that a road and a port can add to improved trade and economic growth, it is often not recognised that stunting shrinks the size of the brain and therefore compromises the current and future economic growth of nations.
“Africa remains the only continent with high levels of malnutrition and which suffers slow progress to reverse the situation in comparison to the rest of the world.
“United Nations data indicates the number of stunted children in Africa which increased sharply from 50.6 million in the year 2000 to 58.7 million in 2017.
“A growing body of evidence recognises that malnutrition and economic development are closely interlinked,” the statement quoted Adeshina as saying.
The president stressed that poor nutrition was responsible for stunting children’s growth, harming their educational development and future economic prospects.
According to him, the programme aims to present key findings and recommendations, including calls on governments to increase budgetary allocations for multi-sectoral nutrition plans.
“The scorecard also calls for the enhanced empowerment of women and adolescent girls, and the provision of nutritional support at the most critical time of a child’s life – during pregnancy and early childhood.
“The nutrition assessment tool provides a snapshot of the status of key nutrition indicators, including internationally agreed nutrition targets, specific and sensitive interventions.
“Others are policy and legal provisions, nutrition financing, and socio-economic impacts.