€5.5M National Alliance for Food Fortification launched

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The National Alliance for Food Fortification (NAFF), a Euro 5.5 million European Union co-funded project, was on Wednesday officially launched by the minister of Health and Social Welfare on behalf of the vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs.

The initiative is championed by The Gambia government through the ministries of Agriculture and Health, National Food and Nutrition Agency (NaNA), Food Safety and Quality Control in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. The four-year project titled ‘Improving Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia through Food Fortification’ co-funded by European Union and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.  It will be implemented in the West Coast, North Bank and Central River Regions.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Perpetua Katapa-Kalala, the country representative of the Food and Agriculture Orgnisation of the United Nations, said the establishment of the NAFF is supported under the Euro 5.543 million Food Fortification project co-funded by European Union and FAO.  

The aims of the project, she went on, is to improve macronutrient nutrition and health outcomes of vulnerable women and children in the country.

“The prevalent rate rates of acute malnutrition and stunting remain high. The 2013 national demographic Household Survey found that one quarter of children under five were stunted and 11.5% wasted; two thirds of children under five and one third of pregnant women and 16% of lactating mothers had vitamin A deficiency”.

For his part, Attila Lajos, the EU ambassador to the Gambia, acknowledged that food fortification increases the nutritional quality of existing diets and consumption pattern, noting that its comparative advantage is that it is delivered through the food system.

“As part of its work on nutrition and food security, the European Commission established the Food Fortification Advisory Services (2FAS) in December 2015, as a step towards scale up engagement and investment for food fortification in developing countries. 2FAS has a particular emphasis on their work on strengthening food fortification institutional and technical capabilities”.

The EU diplomat noted that the intended results are to improve the national food fortification regulatory framework, strengthen public and private sector capacities to support food fortification as well as to increase awareness about and access to fortified flour and rice.

Launching the initiative, Saffie Lowe-Ceesay, the minister of Health and Social Welfare, acknowledged that NAFF is a public-private and civil society partnership led by the NANa.

NAFF, she went on, will serve as an accountability mechanism for the fortification programme, saying it will ensure that a sustained regulatory mechanism is in place and meet regularly to discuss progress, challenges and emerging issues emanating from the industries.

“Effective and sustainable food as well as bio-fortification will be possible only if the public sector, private sector and civil society collaborate to develop, produce and promote micronutrient-fortified foods and their adequate consumption. NAA is a good platform to indentify a set of priority actions and initiate a continuous dialogue between the various sectors to activate the implementation of strategies that will permanently eliminate micro-nutrient malnutrition”.

Author: Sheriff Janko