High Level Regional Integration Seminar on Nutrition
Gaborone 29 November 2012: UNICEF in partnership with the Embassy of France to Botswana, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Government of Botswana held a high level regional integration seminar on “Nutrition Strategies, Governance and Comparative Advantages of Regional Economic/Health Communities for Implementation in Eastern and Southern Africa” in Gaborone (Botswana) on 29th November 2012.
This Seminar provided a platform for sharing information and views on the problem of child malnutrition and strategies to reduce stunting in Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR). Participants included representatives from regional economic and/or health communities, SADC, Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
In her keynote address, renowned children and women’s right advocate Mrs. GraçaMachelstressed that while child malnutrition is a major barrier in eradicating poverty and in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, evidence on what works is available and actions during the 1,000 days are critical to reduce nutrition related child deaths and disability. Mrs. Machel pointed out that “budgeting for nutrition programs at country level is still minimal and does not reflect the critical role and impact that good nutrition plays in the lives of its citizenry and ultimately development of the nation”. In terms of next steps Mrs. Machel appealed to regional entities to quickly develop and adopt regional nutrition frameworks that support systematic evidence driven coordination of nutrition interventions. At country level, recognition, specifically by governments that nutrition is a development issue and not just a health issue is essential.
The first technical session of the day was on stunting reduction with a brief presentation on the nutrition situation of children in Botswana. Dr Noel Marie Zagre, UNICEF Regional Advisor for Nutrition highlighted the burden of stunting in ESAR which has 26 million stunted under five children. While presenting evidence on what works the important role of “networking” for timely and coherent support to national efforts to scale up nutrition programmes” was emphasized.
H.E Mrs Genevieve Iancu (Ambassador of France to Botswana, Special Representative to SADC) highlighted the timeliness of the nutrition seminar as an appropriate follow up to the commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20th November.
The other technical sessions focused on the regional nutrition and food strategies as well as, infant feeding and HIV/AIDS, micronutrient interventions, food and nutrition security and social protection.
Dr Doreen Mulenga (UNICEF Representative to Botswana) emphasized on the importance of “partnership for joint action to sharpen the focus on supporting the implementation of nutrition strategies that will help to quickly increase the scale and impact of the response at country level where it matters the most”.