Stunting costs Africa $25 billion annually – AfDB

23/05/2017
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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says the cost of malnutrition is too huge for Africa to ignore.

Speaking at a side event on “Developing Africa’s Grey Matter Infrastructure: Addressing Africa’s Nutrition Challenges” at the African Development Bank Group’s 52nd Annual Meetings in Ahmedabad, India, on Monday, May 22, AfDB Group President Akinwumi Adesina disclosed that stunting alone costs Africa $25 billion per year.

“We have way above 280 million people in Africa that are malnourished and it doesn’t make sense really, when you take a look at the amount of kids that are actually stunted, it is even more mind boggling. We have 58 million kids that are stunted…stunting alone costs Africa $25 billion a year,” Adesina said adding that African leaders should realise that if the continent has stunted kids today, it would have a stunted economy tomorrow.

Dr. Adesina observed the need to change the approach on how to deal with the continent’s nutritional challenges in recognition of the huge economic ramifications for the future.

“We can repair a bridge, we know how to do that, we can fix a port, we know how to do it, we can fix a rail, we know how to do that, but we don’t know how to fix brain cells once they are gone, that’s why we need to change our approach to dealing with nutrition matters in Africa,” he added.

And speaking earlier, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, applauded AfDB’s initiatives aimed at improving nutrition on the continent.

Ambassador Quinn emphasized the need for inclusivity in the nutrition transformation agenda.

“The World Food Prize is in full support of your efforts,” said Ambassador Quinn, adding, however, that women must not be left behind in the transformation agenda.

Meanwhile, featuring on a panel discussion, Muhammad Ali Pate, CEO of Big Win Philanthropy, said, “We can’t say Africa is rising when half of our children are stunted.”

Other panelists included Baffour Agyeman-Duah, CEO of the John Kufuor Foundation; Shawn Baker, Director of Nutrition, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Lauren Landis, Director for Nutrition, United Nations World Food Programme; all of whom acknowledged Africa’s nutritional challenges and the need for collaborative efforts required to safeguard the economic future of the continent.

And African Ministers from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar and Sierra Leone noted the need for development partners to fit into governments’ plans and avoid imposing their priorities.

At the AfDB Annual Meetings in Lusaka last year, the Bank launched the African Leaders for Nutrition Initiative (ALN), aimed at mobilising high-level African Leadership to make nutrition an investment priority for inclusive, transformative and sustainable growth on the continent.

Developing Africa’s Grey Matter Infrastructure: Addressing Africa’s Nutrition Challenges, AM 2017