Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms Beatrice Mutali - Food and Nutrition High level Summit
- The Vice President of the Republic of Zambia Her Honor Mrs. W.K. Mutale Nalumango
- Cabinet Ministers
- Permanent Secretaries and other senior Government officials
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps
- The UN Country Team and UN staff
- Invited guests
- Representatives from the media
- Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning everyone. Let me start by thanking Her Honor, the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, for being with us today on this important occasion.
Under the theme “Action towards eradicating malnutrition and poverty: an integrated approach for resilient food, WASH, health and social protection systems,” this summit presents a great opportunity to assess progress on our collective efforts to address malnutrition in Zambia.
This gathering comes on the backdrop of a series of global events in 2021, specifically the Year of Action on Nutrition, the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit underscored the importance of nutrition, including the role of diet and its impact on health, climate, and biodiversity.
As the United Nations, we are building on the results of these events and I am honored to reaffirm our continuous support of the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s nutrition agenda, both in development and humanitarian contexts and as a bridge between the two.
Guest of honor, ladies and gentlemen
For the period 2023 to 2027, our support will be delivered through the Zambia United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, also known as the Cooperation Framework.
Let me also take the opportunity to specify the UN support to the Government to address all forms of malnutrition with an emphasis on stunting. This include:
- supporting the decentralized and coordinated delivery of social services, including Early Childhood Development, nutrition and social protection, to poor and vulnerable populations, and promoting sustainability;
- enhancing food security, strengthening food systems and promoting optimal nutritional practices and access to healthier diets for both rural and urban people;
- enhance literacy and completion of basic education by promoting girls' and boys’ access to education, while supporting nutrition in schools as an investment to maximize future economic and social development potential.
Allow me to now address the First 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme that is aimed at reducing child stunting among children below two years of age. Evidence has shown that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life present a window of opportunity since this is when the greatest impact in reducing child stunting can be achieved.
Adequate nutrition is critical to a child’s optimal development, particularly during the first 1,000 days (pregnancy through the child’s second birthday), a period of rapid growth where nutrient deficiencies can have long-term consequences. Furthermore, adequate nutrition is critical for brain development and plays a vital role in a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development—the four domains of early childhood development in which children need to develop to reach their full potential.
Tackling the challenge of stunting, which currently stands at 35 percent among children aged below five years, requires coordinated and concerted efforts from different stakeholders to invest significantly in better nutrition and increasing our society’s understanding of prevention and the effect of stunting in a child and as a nation.
The Government, through the National Food and Nutrition Commission, has provided many positive examples of key ingredients for a successful multi-sector programming.
Zambia has shown that pooling funding and resources for nutrition and using it to implement evidence based multisectoral nutrition actions is possible and does work.
The right combination of cooperation, commitment and ambition paved the way for others to see it was worthwhile to come on board and unify efforts in support of one government programme.
As the Government of the Republic of Zambia under this second phase of the programme is building on national momentum around stunting reduction in 42 high priority districts, the United Nations through UNICEF, WFP, FAO and WHO is supporting 17 of these districts with funding from the European Union (EU), the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW Development Bank, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). This support has helped strengthen Government’s coordination capacity for nutrition and bolster multi-sectoral actions for nutrition in the country.
This generous investment in scaling up nutrition from our donors to support the work of the Government of Zambia will go a long way in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that include eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating disease, empowering women, and achieving universal primary education.
We are aware that stunting reduction takes time with the requirement to address all its complex drivers and pathways. Change also takes time, from changing national priorities, systems and the delivery of multisectoral interventions to changing individuals’ behaviours.
As a result, long term commitments are required from all partners to ensure continued progress, as well as continuity of funding, coupled with a willingness to learn lessons and adapt to achieve impact.
The achievement of the first 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme- phase I and the lessons learnt must not be underestimated given the challenges of working across sectors. My hope is that all partners and stakeholders of this Phase II programme will continue to foster an atmosphere of openness to collaborate and learn from each other, having an open dialogue, being committed to frequent meetings ensuring collaborative efforts, and providing quality technical support to further the national nutrition agenda.
As I conclude, allow me to underscore the commitment of the United Nations to continue working with the Government of the Republic of Zambia, cooperating partners and other key stakeholders, including the civil society, to ensuring better lives for the people of Zambia. We therefore look forward to working together as address all forms of malnutrition.