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Aug 2, 2013

Ghana is making progress in fighting hunger


Ghana is one out of two countries in Africa to win the prestigious award for notable and outstanding progress in fighting hunger, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, has said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Dorothy Effah, Senior Agriculture Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, the Minister said only 18 countries in the world, including Ghana, won that award.

Mr Humado made the announcement at the launch of the Ghana Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Scaling Up Nutrition (GHACCSUN), a group of civil society organizations that advocate that nutrition especially among children and pregnant women should be made a national priority.

The Minister, however, noted that a lot of nutrition education and advocacy was needed to ensure that people had adequate knowledge and appreciate the importance of both macronutrients and micronutrients malnutrition.

Mr Humando said the Ministry had a medium term investment plan that emphasized that food production systems take into consideration foodstuff with good levels of both micro and macronutrients.

“MOFA is promoting the production and consumption of high quality protein maize, orange flesh, sweet potato for vitamin A as well as Moringa and other leafy vegetables,” he said and added that the Ministry was also promoting enrichment of staples during processing.

For example, the Minister said, kenkey and gari could be processed with soyabean to balance the nutrition even if the person does not add protein.

The Ministry, he said, was also training especially rural communities on appropriate food combination of available foods to improve nutrition through food demonstration and development of recipes.

Mr Humado said the Ministry recognized non-state actors like Hunger Alliance and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the vital role they play in improving nutrition through their programmes nationwide but urged them to ensure that they build the relevant capacities to perform their functions.

Mrs Magdalena Owusu Moshi, Deputy Country Representative of World Food Programme (WFP), who also spoke on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, said inadequate nutrition leads to stunted growth and affects brain development, immunity and general health.

She noted that the human and economic cost of under nutrition were enormous, affecting mothers, children and the poorest in society.

“In spite of the severe repercussions of under-nutrition which has been identified as one of the world’s most serious problems, it is one of the least addressed in most countries,” she said.

Mrs Moshi said the United Nations system believes that improving nutrition of mothers and children was key to unlocking the problem of hunger and reaping returns on human capital investment.

She said children under five in Ghana continued to experience sub-optimal growth due to chronic under-nutrition and seasonal food shortages.

Giving statistics, Mrs Moshi said the 2011 multiple indicator cluster survey found 22.7 percent of children under five to be too short for their age.

“Indeed, stunting in the northern region reaches as high as 37.4 percent which means that nearly one in four children in the region may not achieve their full growth potential,” she added.

Mrs Moshi, pledging the UN system’s commitment to nutrition in Ghana, said there is total commitment to advocacy on the importance of proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

“Over the next three years the coalition will be supported to achieve its objectives which include harmonizing the numerous nutrition interventions implemented by CSOs and other professional organizations throughout the country.”

Mr Kwabena Appiah Pinkrah, Co-chairman of the Ghana Parliamentarians against Hunger and Malnutrition Caucus, said members of parliament would lobby for increased budget allocation for nutrition programmes in general whiles serving as the ally of the Civil Society Platform to intensify advocacy to raise the visibility of nutrition in Ghana.

“As we continue to exercise oversight functions of the work of the Executive, we shall lobby the relevant committees in parliament that handle nutrition to demand accountability and commitment from the Executive to improve nutrition outcomes in Ghana,” he said.

Nana Ayim Poakwah, Coordinator of GHACCSSUN, said Ghana had developed a national nutrition policy which would soon be endorsed by key stakeholders and cabinet and expressed happiness that members of the coalition had contributed to that accomplishment.

Dr Edith Tetteh, National Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Focal Person, said civil society involvement in improving nutrition started long ago but noted that there was the need for CSOs to re-strategize to help make mal-nutrition a thing of the past.

There were solidarity messages from the Ghana Health Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Source: GNA