Waging war against food insecurity, malnutrition

Friday, March 02, 2018

Waging war against food insecurity and malnutrition is con considered an important pillar for any government and it must be a serious crusade.

The crusade requires not just partnership but huge resource investment, research and the knowhow in dealing with the issue. The government must scale up its ambition regardless of donors or partners.

UNICEF acknowledges that nutrition is a key component of the government of The Gambia–UNICEF Country Programme of Cooperation as it supports the provision of nutritional supplements such as Vitamin A and therapeutic feeding and promotes good nutritional practices.

As part of the country programme, and with funding from the European Union, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and National Nutrition Agency, they have been able to save the lives of more children by treating existing cases of malnutrition.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), with partners such as; The Gambia government, UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies are also actively screening children under the age of 5 in order to prioritize nutrition support especially during the hunger season.

For many communities in Central River Region (CRR), the lean season (June - October) brings scarcity of main food staples such as rice and other grains, high food prices and depleted reserves. In addition, the rains continually destroy roads, which affect the ability of families’ access health facilities.

According to UNICEF, studies had shown that malnutrition rates had deteriorated in the country. It is predicted that the situation might worsen if action was not taken.

 At the moment, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is 10.3 percent, up from 9.9 percent in 2012. About two in four Gambians (48.6 percent) live below the poverty line, and one in every thirteen households (8 percent of the population) is considered food insecure.

Under the EU-funded “Post-Crisis Response to Food and Nutrition Insecurity in The Gambia”, implemented jointly with UNICEF and FAO and in partnership with The Gambia Government, WFP seeks to provide specialized nutritious foods to prevent and treat malnutrition among infants and young children as well as pregnant and nursing women.

UNICEF supported the National Nutrition Agency to conduct a Standardised Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey to assess the nutritional status of children under five and women. The results of the survey indicated a Global Malnutrition rate of 9.2 per cent in 2012, while Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is recorded at 1.2 per cent.

The FAO in collaboration with the Gambia government and EU’s recent joint day long workshop on legal and regulatory framework for food fortification in The Gambia is indeed laudable.

And one of the ways to win the battle against food insecurity and malnutrition is indeed commitment as shown by FAO but through pragmatic and sustainable solutions.

“Civilization as it is known today could not have evolved, nor can it survive, without an adequate food supply.”

Norman Borlaug