The Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Network virtually convened the 38 GIMAC, in line with the African Union (AU)’s decision to spotlight the critical role of nutrition in facilitating a healthy and prosperous continent. The meeting took place against the backdrop of various normative frameworks adopted by the African Union, in pursuit of a healthy continent, including the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation, which committed to ending hunger and reducing child stunting to 10 per cent and the underweight to 5 per cent by the year 2025. The 38 GIMAC further recognized the adoption of several normative instruments and policies such as the Africa Health Strategy 2016 – 2030; the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015 – 2025 (ARNS); the Declaration on Nutrition Security for Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa; and the Resolution on the Establishment of an Organization of African Unity (OAU) Inter-African Centre for Food Science, Technology and Nutrition.
Below are recommendations to:
- AUC, through the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture and Commission for Health (DREA), Humanitarian & Social Affairs must develop a Nutrition Roadmap for the continent, with accountability structures to monitor the implementation of the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS, 2015-2025).
- AUC, through DREA, the Commission for Health, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, and AUWYGDD must support member states to generate annual data on Africa’s nutrition situation analysis, ensuring that there is an ARNS progress report that can be submitted for discussion at the AU Heads of State and Government Summit.
- AUC, working with partners such as FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO, must hasten the establishment of an African Nutrition Champions or African Task Force for Food and Nutrition Development, which will be responsible for education, awareness-raising, communication and monitoring of the implementation of the African Regional Nutrition Strategy (ARNS 2015 – 2025).
- In line with the commitments and provisions in the African Regional Nutrition Strategy, the AUC, led by the AU Nutrition Champions and the relevant departments (DREA and the Commission for Health, Humanitarian and Social Affairs), must fully- implement the African Region Initiative for Stunting Elimination (ARISE 2025 initiative), which can be used as a platform to generate and share knowledge on nutrition.
- AU should utilize frameworks such as AFCTA, SDGEA, and African Decade for Women’s Financial Inclusion as entry points for promoting and strengthening the economic empowerment of women in agriculture to build a healthy and well-nourished population.
- AU must launch a COVID-19 and Nutrition Response Facility to meet the dual objectives of promoting inclusive and gender-responsive responses to the pandemic while promoting healthy, nutritious and affordable foods to all.
- Utilizing the Silencing the Guns in Africa (STIA) Initiative, the AU should continue to deploy its preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstructive and development.
- AU must support RECs to adopt nutrition harmonized frameworks, policies and strategies, and use this collaboration to develop an Annual African Union Continental Report Nutrition Report to track progress on the continent’s nutrition status, as well as draw lessons for scaling up.
- AU themes should last for 2-3 years running so that we can assess progress and change. This will give the GIMAC Network time to monitor progress and assess the achievement of the commitments made.
African Governments/ AU Member States
- Governments must invest a minimum of 10 per cent of the GDP in agriculture, ensuring that this sector is transformed to provide for both household and national food and nutrition security, while meeting the healthcare needs of women and children. This must be accompanied by reform of Procurement policies to ensure that 30 per cent of Government procurement is designated for women and youths in agriculture and agri-business.
- Governments must adopt and fully implement National Food Security and Nutrition Policies, Strategies and Action Plans, which encourage people to grow and eat more nutritious foods, ensuring that these are fully aligned with AU’s nutrition policies, including the ARNS 2015 – 2025.
- Ministries of Finance and Treasuries must provide regular and predictable funding for the implementation of their National Nutrition Policies, ensuring that there are coordination mechanisms and structures across different government sectors to effectively national and community-based implement nutrition programmes.
- Ministries of Finance, in collaboration with Tax Administration Authorities, must develop food regulation and control systems, which include progressive and gender-responsive tax policies, which seek to stimulate the production, marketing, distribution and consumption of safe and nutritious foods.
- Governments must integrate nutrition into agricultural policy making, rural development plans, and social protection strategies, to ensure a nutrition-sensitive lens is applied to all agricultural policies, programmes and government interventions.
- Governments must engage in long-term planning, including reforming their national Nutrition Early Warning and Information Systems (NEWSs) by utilizing data and evidence to undertake ongoing surveillance, and anticipate and proactively address food crises before they occur.
- Governments must provide gender-responsive and targeted social safety nets and health- and nutrition-specific programmes to strengthen the resilience of communities and households in times of crisis. This should be accompanied by the establishment of National Food Emergency Funds.
- Governments must strengthen their National Disaster and Risk Reduction (NDRR) and Climate Change Adaptation infrastructure to ensure effective protection of the population (especially women, youth, IDPs, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups), against the effects of climate change, extreme weather events.
- Governments must support women and youth agriculture and food production systems, in addition to strengthening their access to flexible financing, technical support and extension services. This should be accompanied by measures that promote the nutritional wellbeing, physical and mental health, social status and decision-making ability of women and youth.
- Governments must adopt progressive tax policies and incentives, such as lifting VAT, customs duties, and other taxes imposed on agri-food businesses to support local producers, to facilitate greater efficiency, resilience, inclusiveness, and sustainability in the African agri-food system.
- Governments must ensure that women and young people are represented in decision-making and nutrition policy design and planning processes, ensuring that they meaningfully participate in the entire agricultural value chain, including the marketing of agricultural products. This should be accompanied by support towards localized food supply chains with monetary and resource support going directly to support small-holder and women farmers
- Governments must governments provide incentives for food producers and actors in the agri-food value chain to stay in business, e.g., providing them with access to credit, supporting them to purchase value addition equipment, facilitating their access to markets and ensuring their physical protection.
- Governments must invest in conflict early warning and crisis prevention and emergency intervention capacities to proactively address the threat of conflict in efforts to reduce malnutrition. This should be undertaken in a broad-based and multi-sectoral approach, which includes multiple sectors, such as health, education, agriculture and water and sanitation.
- Governments must meaningfully engage vulnerable populations in food and nutrition strategy development and implementation processes while strengthening their self-reliance capacities, and providing alternative sources of income for women in conflict, post-conflict and fragile contexts, especially women in refugee and IDP camps.
- Governments must address structural and infrastructural challenges that exacerbate unpaid care work through investing in the care economy and addressing the underlying drivers of unpaid care work.
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, Governments must ensure that agriculture and food supply chains are considered essential services, ensuring that they remain operational, especially allowing the free movement of food and agricultural produce
- Governments must strengthen their gender-responsive social protection programmes to address the impact of the covid pandemic on food and nutrition security. This includes providing women in agriculture and agribusiness with access to credit, inputs, and equipment for value-addition and food processes, accompanied by technical support to enable them to participate in the agricultural value chain.
- Ministries of Education should integrate Nutrition Education into the school curricula to raise awareness and promote healthier consumption patterns. This should be accompanied by increased investments in agricultural and nutrition research and innovation.
- Ministries of Education and Ministries for Social Affairs/ Social Welfare and Gender should implement inclusive school-feeding programmes as strategies to ensure that young girls and children in vulnerable circumstances stay in school and perform well.
Civil Society Organizations
- CSOs, working with the GIMAC Network, must document good practices in promoting nutrition in the continent, so that these can be scaled up in many parts of the continent. Lessons learned should be accompanied by assessments of the power relationships, politics and socio-economic determinants of food production systems in Africa.
- Such evidence must be presented to farmers, communities and governments to advocate for policy reform and shifts that address the inherent inequalities in the global food systems.
- CSOs, working with the GIMAC Network, research institutes and academic centres, must ramp up efforts in data collection and documentation to track indicators of nutrition insecurity, provide critical insights for addressing malnutrition and food insecurity, and contribute towards a stronger evidence-based approach, in national policies and programmes development.
- CSOs must strengthen their capacity for nutrition planning and coordination, through the provision of education and training, targeting various sectors of government and local authorities, and strengthening their capacities in gender-sensitive nutrition planning, and programme implementation.
- CSOs must implement nutrition-sensitive development initiatives, which must be accompanied by support for collective action and empowerment initiatives to enhance the decision-making and leadership role of women and youth in nutrition planning and advancement.
- CSOs must conduct outreach and sensitization campaigns to highlight the links between family planning and nutrition programmes and underline the role of nutrition as a critical aspect of “safe pregnancy and motherhood. CSOs must also advocate for more funding to address SRH needs in the context of promoting nutrition.
- CSOs must redouble their efforts in undertaking training and capacity building for families and communities on sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and food security. This includes working with smallholder farmers, mentoring them and connecting them with investors and markets.
- CSOs must continue to support and empower women’s groups, to enable them to take control over nutrition-relevant resources and decision-making, particularly about food, nutrition, and healthcare.