By Ebrima Jallow
National Nutrition Agency, NaNA, in partnership with the World Food Programme, WFP, last Tuesday launched the Gambia SUN Business Network, SBN, at a local hotel in Kololi.
The SUN Movement is a global movement led by countries to end malnutrition in all its forms.
The Gambia is a country with a high burden of malnutrition that is more prevalent in certain regions than others. Nationally, 15.7 percent of children under five years of age are stunted, 5.8 percent are wasted, and 10.6 are underweight.
The government said it recognises the critical need to address the country’s malnutrition issues, as well as a need for a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approach to end malnutrition. It added that it was against this backdrop that it joined the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement in 2011 and established a multi-sectoral platform called the Nutrition Technical Advisory Committee.
Speaking on behalf of the vice president, Muhamadou Lamin Kinteh, permanent sectary, Office of the Vice President, said there can be no meaningful socio-economic development without adequate nutrition.
He said the SBN is composed of members who are committed to act, invest and innovate to improve nutrition by engaging and inspiring each other and its vision is to ensure that market-based solutions and actions will reduce malnutrition.
“The Gambia, through the National Nutrition Agency joined the SUN Movement in July 2011 as one of the early riser countries. Since then, a multi-stakeholder platform was established comprising government, civil society, academia, media, UN agencies and the business community. Several SUN networks such as the UN, business, civil society and donors are also needed to support the multi-stakeholder platform both in the country and globally,” he posited.
PS Kinteh said the government has taken major strides in addressing malnutrition in all its forms, saying one of the initiatives is the formulation of the National Nutrition Policy and the establishment of the National Nutrition Agency under the office of the vice president and National Nutrition Council.
According to him, these indicate government’s realisation that nutrition is central to our national development and the attainment of the vision as enshrined in the National Development Plan 2018- 2021 and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
WFP rep and country director, Ms. Wanja Kaaria-Ndoho, said inter-sectoral and public-private engagement in nutrition has been identified as useful mechanisms for addressing malnutrition. She said partnerships can also achieve synergetic outcomes that amount to more than what can be achieved by individual partners working on their own.
“WFP will support the government in reaching the NDP goals through investments in sectors particularly relevant to Sustainable Development Goal 2 and 17. WFP, through the SUN Business Network will support the government to develop a structured approach to private sector engagement for nutrition,” she said.
She thanked the European Union for their generous financial support that helped them to engage effectively with private sector through GHE to leverage this emerging market to improve the availability of a nutritious, affordable and safe food in The Gambia.
The SBN is the SUN platform for engagement of the private-sector. It is co-convened by WFP and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN, at global level and across SUN countries of which The Gambia is a part.