Tackling Malnutrition in Zambia5/4/13
Zambia's First 1000 Most Critical Days Programme will help to ensure sufficient nutrition for people like Mildred Malanga and son Kwasmas (2).
Irish Aid and development partners gathered earlier this week at the Zambian Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health in Lusaka to launch two plans that will shape Zambia's fight against malnutrition over the coming three years. Zambia's first multi-sectoral Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan, and the accompanying First 1,000 Days Programme represent significant steps in the country's fight against malnutrition, steps that Irish Aid is proud to support.
Currently 1.2 million, or 45% of all Zambian children under-five years of age, are chronically under-nourished, or stunted. Stunting is entirely preventable and causes lifelong disadvantages impacting negatively on intellectual and physical development and health outcomes. It is for these reasons that Irish Aid will support the implementation of the 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme in Zambia, through the SUN (Scaling up Nutrition) Fund. This programme focuses on the first 1000 days of a child's life as a critical period for healthy physical and mental development, and crucial to preventing stunting.
The Fund aims to scale up certain interventions which are proven nationally to be cost effective in reducing child stunting. Through this support, Irish Aid will contribute to the dual targets of reducing cases of stunting among children from 45% to 30%, and to reduce the prevalence of food insecure households in Zambia from 30% - 20% by 2015.
Irish Aid also supports the Zambian Civil Society Organisation – Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) Alliance, a group of organisations that are combining their expertise to call for a scaled up response to under-nutrition in Zambia. To date, the CSO-SUN has attracted public attention to this key challenge, ensuring that policy-makers recognise the urgency that nutrition demands.
Speaking at the launch, Mr William Chilufya, Co-ordinator of the CSO-SUN, reminded attendees "The fight against malnutrition in Zambia is only beginning. We can accelerate progress towards a Zambia in which all children's rights to adequate nutrition and full life potential are fulfilled. We can overcome the issues of malnutrition in Zambia, forever."