Partners call for strengthened partnership on nutrition to accelerate progress of first 1,000 most critical days programme
LUSAKA, Zambia, 30 November 2022 – The Vice President of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, Her Honor Mutale W.K Nalumango, chaired today the National Nutrition event organised by the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC), with support from key government line ministries and cooperating partners and called for renewed policy and financial commitments to address malnutrition and poverty in Zambia.
Under the theme “Action towards Elimination of hunger and all forms of Malnutrition: An Integrated Approach for Resilient Food, WASH, Health and Social Protection Systems”, the event presented an opportunity for the Government of the Republic of Zambia and partners to assess progress in the fight against all forms of malnutrition.
Zambia has made progress on reducing stunting over the past decade, but it remains a challenge and 35 per cent of children under five years are stunted, the third highest rate of stunting in the region.
“The Government of the Republic of Zambia has demonstrated its commitment and leadership in the design and implementation of evidence-based multisectoral nutrition actions that have been led by NFNC and implemented by six government line ministries. We are determined to keep the momentum around stunting reduction in 42 high priority districts with the support from our partners, further improving coordination among different actors and ensuring multi sectoral actions to achieve better results; and also expanding the number of districts covered,” stated His Excellency Mutale W.K Nalumango.
The National Nutrition event has drawn engagement and participation from all cooperating and implementing partners of the national flagship programme to eradicate stunting – the first 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme (MCDP).
"Adding value within Zambia to agricultural commodities and reaching new export markets means more money will reach Zambian workers’ pockets. At the same time, increasing food production and exports will vastly improve food security both locally and across the continent. It will also help to prevent malnutrition by providing a more nutritious and diversified menu of foods to Zambians and our brothers and sisters throughout the continent,” said the United States Ambassador to Zambia, Michael Gonzales.
Thanks to the MCDP, important progress has been done in the areas of health and nutrition specific services with increased outreach and the promotion of key behaviors. The programme has also supported the production, processing, storage and consumption of nutritious food and promotion of clean environment and economic empowerment through the establishment of savings and loan groups in all the 42 districts. Moreover, community capacity has been scaled up by expanding the Nutrition Support Group networks and mainstreaming this as part of the local capacity to drive social change.
“The implementation of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) programme is quite unique with multiple partners coming together to address the challenges around malnutrition and stunting. This is a very good example of effective coordination and distribution of work. We believe that the activities being implemented by the Government of the Republic of Zambia and cooperating partners in this area are a truly worthy investment. The issue of malnutrition among children is solvable and its prevention translates into raising a healthy and productive generation of Zambians that can positively contribute to the development of this wonderful country,” pointed out the German Ambassador to Zambia, Anne Wagner-Mitchell, on behalf of other SUN II donors - European Union, the Republic of Ireland, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and UK aid from the British people.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Beatrice Musimbi Mutali, highlighted the need of concerted efforts to address malnutrition and reduce stunting. “We are aware that stunting reduction takes time with the requirement to address all its complex drivers and pathways. Change also takes time, from changing national priorities and systems and the delivery of multisectoral interventions through to individuals’ ability to change behaviour. Long term commitments are required from all partners and continuity of funding is critical, coupled with a willingness to learn lessons and adapt to achieve impact,” she added.
Participants shared a series of key achievements and recommendations around key priority areas. In terms of strengthen nutritional leadership and coordination partners focused their recommendation on including multi-sectoral oversight for nutrition and accountability at the Office of the Vice President, fast tracking the appointment of a permanent Executive Director for the NFNC, ensuring each line ministry is clear about their contribution towards improving nutrition, including local coordination based in district plans, supporting the decentralization of the approach, broadening stakeholders and recognizing the role of traditional chiefs and civil society organisations in driving the agenda . There is also a recommendation to extend the timeframe of the MCPD II, including its expansion to other districts and focus on embedding good practices; and increase government investment for nutrition.
In the area of increase government investment for nutrition, participants highlighted that Government spending on child nutrition is way off the recommended global targets and there is a need to provide nutrition funding across relevant sectors, such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), agriculture, fisheries and livestock and social protection with clear targets to increase coverage of nutrition interventions. In addition, ensuring that the nutrition initiatives in the current MCDP II/SUN districts can be sustained as some of the donor funding is reducing from 2024, thus creating a Development Fund to provide guidance for districts to allocate funding towards nutrition and expanding coverage of social safety nets were other key elements mentioned during the event. Furthermore, supporting agricultural and dietary diversification for better nutrition and broadening the focus from handwashing to increasing access to safe water and sanitation were other key priorities highlighted.
Notes to editors about MCDP II programme and SUN II
The First 1000 Most Critical Days Programme Phase II (MCDP II) is the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s flagship programme to reduce stunting. Childhood stunting is an irreversible outcome of growth failure in the first 1000 days of a human being’s life, from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday. Stunting is the result of poor nutrition over prolonged periods of time. Undernutrition is caused by many factors beyond just the food children eat, and MCDP II is a multi-sectoral response aimed at addressing the many underlying drivers of stunting.
SUN II is a four-year initiative led by the United Nations in 17 districts in support of the Government of Zambia’s First 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme Phase II. It is supported by the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank, the Republic of Ireland, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and UK aid from the British people
Mr Mofu Musonda, Acting Executive Director, National Food and Nutrition Commission Email: email@example.com Telephone: +260978792214
Maria Fernandez, Chief of Communication, Advocacy, Partnerships and Engagement (CAPE), UNICEF Zambia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: +260977300636.
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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Zambia, visit www.unicef.org/zambia.