The blight of hunger and malnutrition, which affects one in 12 people across the globe, is the central focus of an international conference hosted by the UN in Rome, this month.
Figures from across the globe, including Pope Francis, attended the event, to find solutions to a global challenge that, in a world of so many excesses, is hard to countenance in the 21st century.
Under-nutrition is an issue with such far-reaching consequences, on health, productivity, as well as on the lifetime prospects of those affected. We at Self Help Africa are committed to ensuring a nutrition focus within our agricultural projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Put simply, we recognize that well nourished people are essential to the successful and lasting economic and social development of the rural poor communities that we work with.
The primary focus of Self Help Africa is on farming. We are therefore well placed to address the nutritional needs of Africa’s rural poor. It is through better food production and diversity that we can combat the nutritional deficits that blight so many people in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this region close to 40% of children are stunted (chronic malnutrition) due to a combination of issues including poor diet, while one in four experience extreme hunger during at least a part of the year.
Hunger and malnutrition go hand in hand, but they are not one and the same. This is why we promote alternative crops as well as the main staples that can provide people with better quality and variety of food –vegetables, beans and other pulses, and crops that offer more than just a full stomach. It is also why we educate and train communities, including nursing and expectant mothers, so that parents understand the vital importance of good food in early childhood years.
It is more than 20 years since the United Nations last convened a conference to examine the state of global nutrition. It is a long time, and since then much has changed.
Today there is a much stronger focus on nutrition globally with a recognition of its importance. This UN conference is an important opportunity to put down a marker on nutrition, and drive policy and practice in eradicating malnourishment and hunger across the world in the years ahead.
Read more about the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation’s International Conference on Nutrition here.