Dr. Lawrence Haddad is the Govt Director, GAIN and H.E. Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko is Commissioner for Rural Financial system and Agriculture of the African Union Fee
The UN estimates that 74% of Africans can’t afford wholesome diets. That’s practically 1 billion Africans. Credit score: Busani Bafana/IPS
ADDIS ABABA, Sep 28 2020 (IPS) – One of many largest revelations of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that folks with pre-existing, diet-related circumstances akin to weight problems, coronary heart illness, and diabetes, are extra liable to struggling extreme types of the illness resulting in a necessity for intensive hospitalization.
In Kenya, as an example, the Ministry of Well being in July reported that 16 % of critically sick COVID-19 sufferers had diabetes, whereas diabetes and hypertension alone accounted for 47 % of the COVID-19 deaths linked to pre-existing circumstances.
In line with WHO knowledge, these continual diet-related circumstances have been among the many fundamental threat elements for sickness and mortality in Africa previous to COVID-19. The present disaster is solely throwing gas on the hearth. It has highlighted the criticality of eating regimen as the important thing determinant of well being of people and populations, notably in city areas, the place an elevated uptake of highly-processed and unhealthy meals is more and more undermining regional vitamin objectives.
The truth is, knowledge from international locations in East and Southern Africa revealed in the Journal of Worldwide Growth present that highly-processed meals now account for a couple of third of the bought meals market. Not all of those meals are unhealthy, however many are, and mixed with the supply of low cost, handy and engaging road meals, the result’s low cost meals that’s excessive in saturated and trans fat, salt and sugar.
Lengthy-term options should be sought, a course of that calls for the involvement of all of the world’s leaders from communities, governments, civil society and the personal sector. The problem is evident: the best way to incentivize meals producers, processors, distributors and entrepreneurs to make nutritious meals extra out there and inexpensive? To alter these devastating developments contemporary meals akin to greens, fruits, high-protein legumes, nuts, eggs and fish should turn out to be extra extensively out there and rather more inexpensive in Africa’s meals markets. Wholesome diets are sometimes inaccessible to most of Africa’s inhabitants.
The UN estimates that 74% of Africans can’t afford wholesome diets. That’s practically 1 billion Africans. That is stunning and unacceptable. These numbers are solely prone to rise throughout this time of a pandemic, the place job cuts have significantly diminished folks’s spending energy and lockdowns have damaged meals provide chains, additional growing meals costs, particularly the costs of perishable contemporary meals.
Momentary and really partial workarounds embody the enlargement of social safety programmes akin to in Nigeria offering focused transfers to poor and weak households. These monetary packages assist the weak to fulfill their minimal dietary and dietary wants, however they don’t seem to be an entire or sustainable answer.
As was significantly emphasised at this yr’s African Inexperienced Revolution Discussion board (AGRF), long-term options should be sought; a course of that calls for the involvement of all of the world’s leaders from communities, governments, civil society and the personal sector. The problem is evident: to incentivize meals producers, processors, distributors and entrepreneurs to make nutritious meals extra out there and inexpensive.
First public coverage must be aligned with this objective. Too many insurance policies are working towards this purpose. For instance too few meals manufacturing and consumption subsidies are going to nutritious meals; too little public agricultural analysis growth and farmer extension focuses on these meals; too usually public meals procurement disfavours this stuff and infrastructure growth ignores chilly chain growth.
Agriculture in Africa is a key financial driver and supporter of livelihoods. Productiveness must be elevated, biodiversity promoted and local weather resilience attained. Is that this attainable? Sure. Already, farmers in international locations like Zambia are recording as much as a 60 % improve in yields by way of the applying of ecosystem-based adaptation methods.
Elsewhere, in Burkina Faso, farmers have reclaimed 200,000 to 300,000 hectares of degraded lands by digging shallow pots in barren land and filling them with natural matter. The reclaimed land now produces an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 extra tonnes of cereal for the Burkinabe. The problem is to copy these successes all through the continent.
Second, personal funding into these extra nutritious meals must be incentivised. Of the $200 billion impression funding fund business, GAIN estimates lower than 0.3% goes to nutritious meals in Africa. Fund services that stimulate personal funding in small and medium sized corporations that produce nutritious meals for low revenue populations should be established that supply mortgage charges which might be decrease than market whereas focusing on vitamin outcomes.
Institutional traders akin to pension funds must sign to the larger corporations with intensive worth chains in Africa that they’ll favour corporations producing extra nutritiously useful meals.
Third, client demand must be shifted in the direction of wholesome meals. Too usually wholesome meals campaigns pale compared to personal sector campaigns for extremely processed meals: they lack creativeness, humour and aptitude.
Wholesome consuming campaigns should be partaking, aspirational and memorable. Meals environments—the place customers come head to head with meals—are stacked towards the consumption of wholesome meals which are sometimes consigned to unattractive areas in markets and shops. This wants to vary too.
Fourth, civil society campaigns can maintain companies and governments accountable for selling wholesome meals. Civil society activism is especially important to focus consideration on silent crises akin to unhealthy diets.
Collectively these 4 levers can incentivize companies and different stakeholders to innovate and develop enterprise fashions, services and products that make nutritious and protected meals extra out there, inexpensive, fascinating, and sustainable. Africa can’t transfer forward easily if 1 billion of its folks can’t afford a nutritious diet.
The approaches outlined above should not exhaustive, but when properly carried out will deliver the continent nearer to higher nourishment, additional enhancing the prospects of correctly preventing rising well being challenges akin to COVID-19, each from a well being and financial perspective.