Kenya: Experts Meet to Combat Africa’s Malnutrition

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In her opening remarks, Sara Mbago-Bhunu, director of the East and Southern Africa Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said malnutrition in all its forms persists as a major health problem in Africa, resulting in loss of productivity, excessive health care costs and poor educational outcomes.

On Tuesday, experts met in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to discuss ways to fight malnutrition in Africa.

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The three-day workshop on nutrition-sensitive agriculture, rural development and food system transformation brought together senior government officials, agronomists and development agencies from 16 countries across Africa to break the cycle of malnutrition on the continent.

In her opening remarks, Sara Mbago-Bhunu, director of the East and Southern Africa Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said malnutrition in all its forms persists as a major health problem in Africa, resulting in loss of productivity, excessive health care costs and poor educational outcomes.

“Despite some progress in the region in reducing stunting rates among children under five, most notably in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda, countries in East and Southern Africa still face significant challenges in meeting nutrition targets,” Mbago-Bhunu said.

Malnutrition is taking a toll on the youngest in the #Sahel region.

Urgent action is needed to provide life-saving nutrition to millions of children.

Learn more in the 2024 Sahel HNRO: https://t.co/F5256xhvSo pic.twitter.com/helSqP7ciL

— OCHA West and Central Africa (@OCHAROWCA) June 11, 2024

She added that the IFAD promotes investments in agricultural production systems that ensure more nutritious foods are available, accessible, sustainable and resilient in order to meet the nutritional needs of rural populations.

According to Mbago-Bhunu, there is a need to achieve nutritious foods for all through diversification using innovations, technology, research and science-based solutions.

Mary Njeri Kabaji, head of the Agrinutrition Unit at Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, said Kenya faces the burden of malnutrition, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies in zinc, Vitamin A and iron.

Kabaji said Kenya is encouraging the population to reintroduce indigenous foods into their diets to ensure that the nutrient-dense foods from different regions are conserved and consumed.

She added that the country is also promoting the production and utilization of biofortified foods, especially orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and iron- and zinc-rich beans, to improve micronutrient intake. 

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