By Thoboloko Nts’onyane

MASERU – The United Nations (UN) Lesotho’s Resident Coordinator (RC) Amanda Khozi Mukwashi has appealed to the stakeholders involved in the process to fight hunger and malnutrition to invest in home-based remedies.

“The continent is poised on a cliff edge – whether it takes off and falls off is a choice that this generation will make. Either deliberately by choosing to invest in communities’ self-sufficiency, treating our natural endowments with respect and producing sustainably.

“Not tackling the issue of nutrition and food systems/security will impact on productivity, delayed economic growth, increase financial burden on the health systems and impede education for many children. Whatever the decision/choice, let us be clear that there will be a cost.

“There are thoughts that are on my mind: Africa must first and foremost look internally to generate resources, create the fiscal latitude to finance its development agenda including nutrition, food systems that are sustainable and that help accelerate community resilience and wellbeing.

“We must go back to the basics and find solutions in the simplicity of our community lives – particularly in those areas that remain relatively unscathed by [genetically modified food]. Africa’s food sufficiency must be grounded in the lived realities of the rural areas,” she said.  

Mukwashi also posited that the dialogue on nutrition financing could not come at an opportune time when the world faces daunting economic, developmental and existential challenges.

She argues that as the cost of living continues to increase and the inequality gaps among many counties aare also widening further.

“The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us that without health, there is no future and no life,” she said.

The RC maintains that consequences of the frequency and intensity of shocks caused by climate change that the world experiences lead to loss of life, displacements, damage to crops and livestock and also causes food insecurity, especially among the vulnerable and marginalised population.

“Access to adequate food is a fundamental human right,” said the UN Lesotho’s RC.

Meanwhile, the goal two of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) calls for an end to hunger and all its forms, the aspiration that should be achieved by 2030.

According to the UN, in 2020, between 720 million and 811 million persons worldwide were suffering from hunger, roughly 161 million more than in 2019. Also in 2020, about 2.4 billion people constituting over 30 percent of the world’s population, were moderately or severely food-insecure, lacking frequent access to adequate food.

It further says the figure, 2.4 billion, increased by nearly 320 million people in just one year. The UN continues to show that globally 149.2 million children under 5 years of age, or 22.0 per cent, suffered from stunting (low height for their age) in 2020, a decrease from 24.4 per cent in 2015.

According to the IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis July 2022 – March 2023 report published on August 19, 2022, 320 000 which represents 22 percent of the Lesotho population faces “high acute food insecurity”.

“According to the latest results of an IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis, an estimation of 229 000 people representing 15 % of the population in rural areas of Lesotho are classified in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) in the current period from July to September 2022, and will require urgent action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition.

“From October 2022 to March 2023, an estimated 320 000 people representing 22 % of the rural population of Lesotho are projected to be in IPC 3 (Crisis),” reads the report.  

The UN Lesotho RC said the world is “not on course to stop climate change; the world is currently not on course to deliver the sustainable development goals; current estimates indicate that most countries will not achieve internationally agreed nutrition targets by 2025 either”.

These challenges she said are many and find Africa in an already “weakened state” of development. 

In December 2022, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government met in Abidjan and made the declaration to scale up efforts to achieve nutrition.  They made the Declaration to “Accelerate investment, implementation and coordination to improve nutrition and food security in Africa”. 

“In Lesotho we are grateful and inspired by the leadership of His Majesty the King as the African Union Nutrition Champion and FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for Nutrition. We also welcome the commitment of the Government of Lesotho to drive forward policies that promote food security and nutrition for all.

“These are already influencing the agenda setting in the country.  Moving from policy to practice is now needed to make a difference at household level, in every home, every village, every school, every health centre, every district and every country on the continent,” she said and also reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to joining forces with the government, civil society, the private sector, development partners to strengthen nutrition, food security, environmental sustainability.