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Tanzania, 26 May 2015: FANUS 3rd Conference on Nutrition in Africa at Crossroads

“The double burden in Africa is a reality…we must act now or later regret”

© UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Groot
Francis B. Zotor, President of the African Nutrition Society, speaking in the opening ceremony: “We want to be a continental movement that will inspire the grassroots.”

Over 350 nutritionists from Africa meet in Arusha for a five day conference on “Nutrition in Africa at Crossroads”. The FANUS 2015 conference is an important event for local capacity development, says Bjorn Ljungqvist (Chair of the Scientific Committee of the 3rd FANUS conference) as it brings together active nutritionists working on the ground. Ljungqvist emphasised the importance of “Africa at a Crossroads”, the challenge of the multi-sectoral approach, and the opportunity “to act on a global scale, to be part of setting new directions”.

Lawrence Haddad, Senior Researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) followed the opening with a compelling keynote presentation discussing the Global Nutrition Report and the potential for impact: “The big crossroads now is to convert that momentum into commitment, and that commitment into impact”.

Haddad also reminded the audience that “45 per cent, or almost half of all child deaths are from poor nutrition”. While this is a figure that many nutritionists are familiar with, Haddad emphasised that the general public is often unaware of it. “Don’t ever get tired of sharing that number”. His address further discussed the double burden of both under nutrition and underweight and obesity, and highlighted the pay-off of financial investment in nutrition: for every one dollar invested on nutrition programmes, governments can get sixteen dollars back.

A common theme across the sessions is the clear need of a multi-sectoral approach and the challenge of how to link across sectors. Ferew Lemma and Joyceline Kaganda shared this perspective as they presented on learnings from Ethiopia and Tanzania respectively. Kaganda highlighted the crossroads we face in Tanzania today: “How do we choose, and where do we go?” she said, speaking about the different challenges.

Speaking with key participants in the breaks they stressed the importance of the event as a way of changing our thinking and of encouraging sectors to work together, as this is a key challenge that faces nutrition in Africa. Nicholas Bidault, UNREACH, echoed this perspective saying “To make an impact in nutrition we need to invest in all the underlying issues as well”.

Isatou Jallow, Senior Nutrition and Partnership Advisor at NEPAD emphasised the importance of the “double burden” and acting on it. “The double burden of malnutrition in Africa is a reality. We shouldn’t treat overweight obesity and related NCD as an afterthought in our interventions to address malnutrition. We should act now, or regret later.”

© UNICEF Tanzania/2015/Groot
Joyce Kinabo, President of FANUS, on her hopes for the FANUS 2015. “We want people to leave this conference with new ideas, new vigour to do things differently.”

Prof Joyce Kinabo (President of FANUS) speaking informally in a break highlighted the importance of innovating through the event. The group is “gathered here to really learn and understand....We want people to leave this conference with new ideas, new vigour to do things differently”.

In the opening ceremony held in the afternoon we were honoured by presentations from Joyce Kinabo, President of FANUS, Francis B. Zotor, President of the African Nutrition Society (ANS) and a presentation on behalf of Dr. Anna Lartey, President of the International Union of Nutrition Sciences (IUNS). Dr. Francis B. Zotor made a passionate speech calling the participants to action, stressing the role of nutritionists to change nutrition in Africa as a movement and one that needs to seek impact: “We want to be a continental movement that will inspire the grassroots”.

The FANUS (Federation of Africa Nutrition Societies) 2015 conference is being held from May 25-29 at the Arusha International Conference Centre, Tanzania. For more information visit The Global Nutrition Report is available for download online at .Share and follow the event on social media using hashtag #Fanus2015




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