Members of Parliament from eastern African countries are on 15th April, 2019 expected to launch the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA FSN) – a sub-regional platform aimed at promoting the right to food in eastern Africa through improved legislation.
According to a statement issued on 14th April, 2019 by the Food and Agriculture (FAO) of the United Nations, the launch is in line with the first annual meeting in Tanzania in 2019.
The platform came after realizing that malnutrition continues to be a major impediment to economic development, whereby it is estimated that 58 million children under the age of five years are too short for their age (stunted) in Africa.
`Childhood malnutrition is costing the African economy about 11 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year, whereas preventing malnutrition delivers $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent in Africa,` the statement read in part.
It further said that parliamentarians play a critical role in alleviating hunger and malnutrition.
`In fact, MPs enact laws and regulations, monitor law enforcement, influence national development plans, determine the design and allocation of national budgets, and hold their governments accountable for policy implementation related to food security and nutrition.`
After a number of consultative meetings, MPs from eastern African countries, acknowledging the insufficient progress in food and nutrition situation, committed to establish a sub-regional platform that will promote cross border sharing of experience and best practices. It was also agreed to create the Eastern Africa Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (EAPA FSN) and to hold the first annual meeting in Tanzania in 2019.
`This meeting is therefore meant to officially establish and launch the EAPA FSN. It will also provide an opportunity for launching the FAO-IGAD Technical Cooperation Program developed to support parliamentary action in Eastern Africa,` the statement said.
The meeting which will be held in the Northern Safari capital of Arusha, the meeting will bring on board about 40 MPs from 9 countries; IGAD Inter-parliamentary Union and East African Legislative Assembly and it will be chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Job Ndugai.
In the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, Globally, stunting among children under five years has fallen from 32.6% in 2000 to 22.2 per cent in 2017. Yet, while stunting in children under five years of age is declining at a global level, the numbers in Africa are increasing. Driven by population growth, despite the decrease in stunting prevalence in Africa, the number of stunted children has steadily increased from 50.6 million in 2000 to 58.7 million in 2017.
The data also shows an overall increase in both overweight and obesity in Africa. At the same time, the region is undergoing significant growth in consumption of packaged foods.
Also read: World Food Day: Food security situation in East Africa