In Africa, 220 million people are estimated to be calorie deficient, while 8 per cent (and rising rates) of adults over 20 years are obese, and 58 million children under five years of age are too short for their age. A new joint venture between the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) will advocate for and hold political leaders to account in their efforts to tackle hunger and malnutrition; one of the biggest development challenges in the continent.
NEPAD and IDS will launch, review and exchange learning around the effective use of a new Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index for Africa (HANCI-Africa). HANCI-Africa will be launched later this year.
The index provides African political leaders, governments, civil society and communities with sound, systematic and accessible evidence on current government efforts to combat malnutrition. It adopts and adapts the tried and tested approach for assessing political commitment devised by IDS, and presents country performances and comparative rankings.
The partnership is very timely. The NEPAD CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, emphasised in his welcome remarks at the recent launch of the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) during the TICAD VI summit in Nairobi, that in order to accelerate action – “we have to ensure Effective Coordination, Adequate Capacities and Resources and above all Mutual Accountability”. Similarly, the President of the African Development Bank, Akin Adesina stated that “Africa needs a Nutrition Accountability Index”. HANCI-Africa offers just this, with African institutions in charge of driving change.
The initiative caters to African political leadership’s demand for accountability on ending hunger and improving nutrition:
- As expressed in the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, which commits AU Member States to “mutual accountability for action and results”
- To achieve “Healthy and Well Nourished Citizens” – a key goal of the African Union’s Agenda 2063
- To deliver on pledges by Heads of State in the Malabo Declaration on “Nutrition Security for Improved Economic Growth and Sustainable Development” to end hunger and reduce stunting incidence to 10 per cent and underweight incidence to 5 per cent of all children under five years of age by 2025
- To help deliver World Health Assembly targets and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal #2.
How can this new partnership contribute to efforts in addressing hunger and malnutrition?
Clearly, achieving these important goals will require translating international to national level targets and a concerted effort across public, private, third sectors and communities. The new partnership will assess how to use HANCI-Africa to monitor progress and to support advocacy at continental, regional, national and subnational levels to foster mutual accountability.
It will also support NEPAD in its mandate to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of the Malabo Declaration. Accordingly, it will contribute to NEPAD’s Africa Nutrition Accountability Mechanism and seek to support other important initiatives, such as ongoing efforts to establish an African Leaders for Nutrition platform.