#InvestInNutrition – Supporting the Call for Leadership, Partnership and Investment
June 20, 2016
Nutrition may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the agenda for the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings. This gathering of 5,000 Bank governors, finance ministers, economists and African leaders tends to focus on the growth livelihoods and nations.
But, there they were, in Lusaka, Zambia, the host city of this year’s conference. And there we were—with a standing room only crowd and many more still trying to get in to hear an important announcement on the future of nutrition investment.
For weeks, GMMB had worked with the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, the AfDB and other partners on this event to frame nutrition not “just” a health issue, but an economic imperative for growth.
Dr. Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, calls it “gray-matter infrastructure” because nutrition helps to develop the minds and bodies of children.
His call for investment was echoed by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations: “Poor nutrition casts a long shadow over entire generations – denying children, communities and nations from reaching their full potential.”
That’s why the new analysis from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition was so important to communicate: increased investments to meet the World Health Assembly target of reducing stunting by 40 percent by 2025 could add $83 billion in additional GDP growth in just 15 sub-Saharan African countries.
But that requires action on the part of governments, partners and donors. Former President of Ghana, John Kufuor, the co-chair of the Global Panel, announced the intent for a new initiative to drive progress. “We cannot continue to grow as nations if we are not fully supporting the growth and development of the children that are the future of the continent,” he said. “The African Leaders for Nutrition will be an opportunity for Heads of State and ministers to use their voices to commit, their actions to invest, and their positions to truly lead.”
If the overcrowded room of attendees, media and delegates– including ministers of finance from several African countries – is any indication, this is an issue decision-makers are keen to learn more about.
The same goes for press across the continent. We were proud to help secure more than 50 articles in more than six African countries to amplify the news and show why investing in nutrition should be a top priority.
The effort to encourage governments, donors and partners to #InvestinNutrition started this past April in Washington D.C. with an event keynoted by Bill Gates and featuring a new investment framework developed by the World Bank, Results for Development and 1,000 Days.
Global health – and nutrition in particular – is a key focus area for our firm. After working to shape and develop the April event and the African Development Bank’s May event in Lusaka, we’re looking forward to what’s next in bringing attention to this critical issue.
Photo credit: ILYD Media Photography