Nutrition International congratulates the African Development Bank and its Banking on Nutrition partners – Big Win Philanthropy and the Aliko Dangote Foundation – on the recent release of The Banking on Nutrition Partnership Progress Report (2015-2020), which highlights the Bank’s positive achievements towards its goal of contributing to a 40% stunting reduction in Africa.

In Africa, which is home to two out of every five stunted children in the world, focusing on stunting reduction is especially critical. Child stunting is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as impairments to growth and cognitive development, impacting future productivity. Unaddressed, stunting could have potentially devastating and lifelong consequences for children, their families, communities and countries.

Ironically, countries bearing the highest burden of malnutrition also lack the financial resources to effectively tackle the multiple underlying factors. This makes nutrition-smart programming an effective approach for leveraging much-needed financial resources, while working to achieve the World Health Assembly targets of 2025.

The Bank’s commitment to nutrition

The African Union recognizes that good nutrition is “the foundation of healthy development and is one of the best investments to boost the economic potential of families, communities and nations.” The African Union has named nutrition the theme of the year for 2022, a critical step towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

We applaud the vision of the Bank’s President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, in “developing Africa’s grey matter infrastructure.” The idea of building human capital as a means of securing sustainable economic growth and development inspired the Bank’s launch of the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan (MNAP) 2018-2025. Operationalization of the MNAP leveraged additional resources for nutrition within the Bank’s investment portfolio across five key sectors: agriculture, education, health, social protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene. The Progress Report revealed that, following the MNAP implementation, 18% of the Bank’s projects were nutrition-smart projects, up from 5% prior to the Banking on Nutrition initiative.

The incredible success highlighted in the Progress Report demonstrates meaningful and effective leadership for investing in multi-sectoral and nutrition-smart programming in Africa. The nutrition-smart investments supported by this partnership aim to contribute positively towards addressing the multidimensional determinants and causes of malnutrition. These determinants, including poor maternal health and nutrition, infectious diseases, and inadequate child feeding practices and dietary intake, are often compounded by poverty, poor hygiene, and unsanitary conditions.

The partners’ success also serves to inspire commitments at the highest levels of government and showcase goals to align efforts with the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015-2025 and the sectoral strategies relating to nutrition articulated in the Malabo Declaration targets.

Nutrition International’s technical support

Through our Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM), Nutrition International is proud to have designed and delivered the technical assistance packages that helped the Banking on Nutrition partners operationalize the Bank’s MNAP. We are proud to be associated with the success and results reflected in the Progress Report.

NTEAM’s technical assistance strengthened the Bank’s institutional capacity for nutrition programming by equipping staff with the knowledge, skills and tools to design, manage and track nutrition-smart projects and investments across the five sectors. The MNAP provided the opportunity to integrate nutrition into country strategy papers, national and multinational projects, and COVID-19 response programs. An interactive nutrition dashboard, aligned with the Bank’s internal monitoring system, was designed and built to track progress and aid decision-making.

While we celebrate this momentous achievement, we remain cognizant of the continued need for accelerated action to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Health Assembly targets for nutrition. This positive momentum must be sustained in the lead-up to the Nutrition for Growth Summit in December and the African Union Year of Nutrition Action in 2022.

We invite you to explore the multi-sectoral nutrition toolkits created for the Bank’s nutrition-smart investments. These are openly available on Nutrition International’s Global Learning Centre. To learn more about NTEAM’s technical assistance and capacity development to the Bank, please see our technical brief: Technical Assistance Towards Accelerating AfDB Investment in Multi-sectoral Nutrition Programming: Sharing NTEAM’s Experience and Lessons Learned.