The President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina has said the institution will be launching the Affirmative Finance Action for Women to leverage US $3 billion specifically for women in Africa to fight malnutrition in African children.
Adesina said this in Washington during an event on global nutrition organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It has been said that fifty-eight million children in Africa under the age of five are too short for their age; and 14 million weigh too little for their height. Unite Nations for Children Fund (UNICEF) has estimated the annual cost of under-nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa at US $25 billion.
Adesina’s address set out the ways which the African Development Bank is addressing Africa’s nutrition challenge in launching a new strategy to ‘Feed Africa’, and turn a net food-importing continent into a self-sufficient food exporter within 10 years.
According to him “feeding children needs to be accompanied by supporting their mothers and AfDB is launching the Affirmative Finance Action for Women to leverage US $3 billion specifically for women in Africa and use the meeting coming up in Lusaka later in the month as a platform for the group of African Leaders for Nutrition to call for innovative and effective financing approaches to end malnutrition”
Adesina expanded on the idea of financing the fight against malnutrition, floating the idea of issuing nutrition social bonds.
He stressed the importance of Health Ministers having the support of their Finance Ministers. He recalled his time as Minister of Agriculture for Nigeria. “I am not asking you [the Finance Minister] for more money for agriculture”, he had said. “I am in fact promising you more money from agriculture, if we turn it into agribusiness.”
He also underscored the importance of using mobile technology to get food – and information about food – to women, and stressed the need for Africa to scale up its use of bio-fortified foods. Ninety-five per cent of these are currently imported, while the raw materials to create them, not least sorghum, are plentiful.
“Again, Africa will manage its own development”, Adesina said.