By The Inspirer staff.
A hungry and rumbling stomach drains the brain and destroys the cognitive ability of children, said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President, Africa Development Bank as he highlighted the burden of hunger and stunting in Africa, and called for concerted efforts to eradicate the problem.
Adesina made the remarks at the Public Lecture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, held at the FAO Head Office, in Rome, Italy, August 27, 2018.
Taking the case of malnutrition, he said that it affects millions of child where Africa has some 58 million kids that are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age.
“Yet, economies post ever rising GDP growth rates. Well, nobody eats GDP.
There is no question that stunted children today will lead to stunted economies tomorrow,” he warned.
He observed that Africans must not get used to abnormal things.
“Not to have food is abnormal. Not to have electricity is abnormal. A lack of universal health care is abnormal and a lack of social services is abnormal. The distorted lens of abnormality cannot and must not become the norm,” the AfDB Chief said.
According Adesina the greatest contributor to economic growth is not physical infrastructure, but , or ‘grey matter infrastructure’ which is brainpower.
“We should not just build roads or standard infrastructure, we must build grey matter infrastructure,” he pointed out.
We are not winning the war against global hunger, Adesina said citing the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2017, which revealed that the number of hungry people in the world increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.
Climate change is worsening the situation, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where it’s been estimated by International Food Policy Research Institute that the continent will add an additional 38 million hungry people by 2050 due to climate change, Adesina informed.
“We can banish hunger and malnutrition in the world. And this should start with having better global governance on food and nutrition, backed by political leadership with a heart for the poor,” he said.
However, he expressed concern that global funding for nutrition itself is stunted. The share of global ODA spent on nutrition is very low and declined to only 1%.
Proposed solutions to the problem
There’s an urgent need, Adesina said, to scale up financing to end world’s hunger and malnutrition. The private sector should incorporate healthy and nutritious foods into the food supply chain. The public sector should double up support for food and nutrition intervention programs at scale.
“And national governments should make access to quality and nutritious food a basic human right – with their rights protected by constitutions,” he recommended.
To tackle the challenge of malnutrition in Africa, the African Development Bank launched the African Leaders for Nutrition – working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, Big Win Philanthropy and the Global Panel on Food Systems and Nutrition.
‘There is absolutely no reason for Africa to be food insecure. Africa must become a breadbasket for the world. Unlocking this enormous potential of Africa’s agriculture must be at the top of global food security agenda,” he said.
It is this vision, he said, that drives “our new engagement on agriculture at the African Development Bank. The Bank will be investing $ US 24 billion, over ten years, in agriculture, to implement its Feed Africa Strategy.”
What must be done is “expanding production possibilities of smallholder farmers, remove binding constraints around them – including limited access to technology, markets, infrastructure, finance, among others – and make agriculture, the source of their livelihood, a wealth creating sector, not a sector for perpetuating inter generational poverty and misery.”
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