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Business News of Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Source: B&FT

AfDB plans US$3bn facility to improve food nutrition

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has taken a giant step toward improved food nutrition and security with plans to develop a US$300million facility that will leverage about US$3billion from banks and microfinance institutions across the continent to empower women and women-owned enterprises toward to improving access to nutritious diets.

President of the bank, Akinwumi Adesina, told the B&FT in an interview on the sidelines of the third meeting of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition in Accra that the move is part of efforts to address the surging rate of stunted growth on the continent.

He said: “The African Development Bank is planning a US$300million facility that will leverage US$3billion of financing from banks and microfinance institutions across the continent to support, specifically, women and women-owned enterprises that will allow them to have higher incomes -- which will be used in improving nutrition in their households.

“We must begin to understand that when we say infrastructure it is not just about hard infrastructure like roads and ports, but brain matter infrastructure; the kind of infrastructure that is in the brain.

“Currently, 20 out of 24 countries globally with stunting rates over 40 percent are in Africa and the majority of them are children; but the message is simple -- if African governments can boost economic growth, they must invest in nutrition.”

An estimated two percent growth in global agricultural output against the rapidly growing population size, on the back of heightened climate change conditions which are harshly impacting poor farmers, threatens the prospect of improved nutrition for proper health and development.

According to the AfDB boss, tackling this situation will require efforts in four different areas which should include investing in feeding children properly and ensuring that women have access to nutritious food to feed their households as that is what will be driving economies going forward.

“In Africa, we have a situation today wherein well over 500 million people are living on less than a dollar per day…leading to unacceptable malnutrition levels.

“Therefore, African countries should not invest only in hardcore infrastructure but also invest in feeding children properly; because when you have nutritious meals for children, then you are able to develop their brainpower to be able to stay in school, to excel in school and thus raise the economy,” he said.

Mr. Adesina indicated that the Global Panel, of which he is a member, will help to look at ways that can improve the situation including ensuring that governments of the continent “do big things for women”-- whether as farmers or as mothers -- because they will require access to nutritious food to feed their families.

The Global Panel on Agriculture for Food Systems for Nutrition is an independent group of influential experts with a commitment to tackling global challenges in food nutrition and security.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the panel works to ensure that agriculture and food systems support access to nutrition and to stimulate strong evidence-bases for changes in agriculture to improve nutrition and increased access to healthy and sustainable diets.

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