Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world, according to 2017 FAO estimates, with nearly 21 percent of the population affected. Coupled with rapidly increasing rates of overweight and obesity, the seriousness of the continent’s nutrition challenges cannot be ignored.
These challenges were front and center at the October 2018 Africa Nutrition Conference, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Formerly known as the Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference, and still referred to as “ANEC,” it is the largest gathering of nutritionists in Africa. Held every two years, it draws together nutrition experts from the continent and around the world who are working on addressing Africa’s complex nutrition challenges.
With its focus on ensuring people everywhere have sustainable access to food that is safe and nutritious, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) was widely involved in the gathering. Representatives from the Food Systems for Healthier Diets (FSHD) flagship were part of a joint symposium convened by A4NH Managing Partner Bioversity International, FAO, and the International Union of Nutrition Sciences (IUNS). At the session, titled “Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in African Food Systems,” Gina Kennedy, A4NH researcher and Senior Scientist at Bioversity, spoke about how important research is in identifying possible interventions and solutions to Africa’s nutrition problems. The session, moderated by Namukolo Covic of A4NH Lead Center IFPRI, who coordinates A4NH research in Ethiopia, explored how mainstreaming underutilized African crops can improve dietary diversity.
Researchers with Transform Nutrition West Africa (TN-WA), the groundbreaking research-based, evidence-driven program led by IFPRI and supported by A4NH under Flagship 4, Supporting Policies, Programs, and Enabling Action through Research (SPEAR), were also heavily active at ANEC. The conference served as the first public presentation of TN-WA, which launched earlier this year. Researchers with the program presented intriguing new work, including a map of recent research evidence to help guide nutrition policymaking in West Africa and a study assessing the multiple burdens of malnutrition on children under the age of five and women of reproductive age in the region.
Learn more about the Bioversity/FAO/IUNS symposium here. Learn more about Transform Nutrition West Africa activities and research at ANEC here.