His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has joined the ‘African Leaders for Nutrition High-Level Dinner’ on the margins of the thirty-third Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) to commit to the efforts of ending malnutrition on the continent.
The initiative, led by current and former African leaders, was endorsed by the AU Assembly in January last year and aims to influence and generate innovative investments towards nutrition and food security that will build a foundation for productive human capital on the continent.
In the midst of colleague presidents and heads of state like Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina, President Bio pointed out efforts being made by his government to serve balanced diet as part of the school feeding component of the free quality education for pre, primary and secondary schools in Sierra Leone, a small West African nation of approximately seven million people.
As the latest to join the African Leaders for Nutrition champions, the President emphasised the investment value of nutrition for growth and development, noting that their priority as a nation was a human capital development that encompassed quality education, quality healthcare and also food security that could help get rid of malnutrition.
“I believe fervently that if we were to achieve the education outcome that I expect in Sierra Leone, I have to take nutrition very seriously. This was when it dawned on me that malnutrition is a great impediment, inasmuch as we are determined, to making sure that the kids who go to school are not only fed but they have a balanced diet to help them listen and take part meaningfully,” he said.
He reminded other leaders present of the Continental Nutrition Accountability Score Card that measured progress made by member states to achieve nutrition security and provided a snapshot of Africa’s progress in meeting global and continental nutrition targets as stipulated in Agenda 2063, the sustainable development goals and the 2014 Malabo Declaration.
“The scorecard offers an opportunity to lay a solid foundation to aide African leaders to act strategically and deliberately in implementing policies and investing in nutrition programmes that tackle malnutrition in their respective countries,” he noted.
The event was jointly hosted by the Chair of the AU Commission, His Majesty, King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho as Patron of Nutrition in Africa and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, that invests in areas such as agriculture, water, sanitation, hygiene, social protection, health and education to make countries become “nutrition smart”. Today, 61 countries lead the scaling up nutrition movement to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.