Reflections from AU High Level Dialogue on Nutrition Financing 2023

Public and private sector actors recognise the need for nutrition financing. Maureen Muketha from SBN and Charles Opiyo from GAIN reflect on their experiences at African Union’s High Level Dialogue on Nutrition Financing recently held in Lesotho.

Around the globe, one of the major topics of discussion around scaling nutrition interventions is the issue of financing. This applies majorly to all sectors supporting nutrition interventions, especially the private sector. Africa especially has a huge number of nutrition focused businesses that are constantly on the look out for financing opportunities to continue to produce safe and nutritious foods for consumption.

Several dialogues have been organised to chart new pathways of increasing financing for nutrition, especially in Africa, which has had a good number of investors and donors in attendance to understand the level of financing support needed and highlight the type of funding available from their platform to the private sector.  One of such was a 2-day high-level dialogue hosted in Lesotho by His Majesty King Letsie III, as one of the African Union Champions for Nutrition with the aim to convene private sector actors and parliamentarian for increased domestic resources for nutrition.

The High-Level Forum on Nutrition Financing for Heads of States and governments as well as representatives from international organisations and development partners at the event held at Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru, in which African nations were encouraged to commit to six different resolutions to improve nutrition.

  1. To prioritize investment in nutrition to accelerate Africa economic transformation and attainment of agenda 2063 objectives.
  2. To build the capacity of the of the African Union Member States to fill the investment gap with their domestic resources; and adopt and advocate for innovative financing strategies for nutrition such as sugar and fat taxation among others. 
  3. The private sector to leverage capital sources and funding routes to complement government efforts in filling the funding gaps for nutrition.
  4. To promote governments and private sector dialogues and partnership that aim at realigning national economic priorities with public health imperatives such as the promotion of healthy diets and sustainable food chains and the shaping of consumer choice for healthy diets.
  5. Strengthen parliamentarians leading and strategic role in adopting and enforcing the right legislation, allocating appropriate domestic resources with respect to commitments made, and supporting accountability mechanisms at national level.
  6. To strengthen parliamentary engagement for healthy diets and support them with tools and model laws to be better gate keepers of nutrition and healthy diets at country level.
  7. Support the implementation of the Abidjan Declaration action and popularize it at all AU policy organs including, Pan African Parliament and all the relevant Specialized technical Committees to advocate for multisectoral investments.

The first day featured a technical session on the role of private sector in improving food and nutrition security (such as their position in the food value chain leveraging on technology and innovation) and case studies by different organisation: SUN Business Network, UNICEF & World Food Programme. The session also hosted a panel discussion on strategies and opportunities for financing for Nutrition in Africa, which included contributions from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry, International Fund for Agricultural Development & Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho, while the second day was structured to engage with Africa Leaders for Nutrition and Ministers of Finance and Development Planning.

GAIN and SBN’s Participation

As a participant at the 2-day event, GAIN was opportune to shared insights on strategies and opportunities for private sector in financing for nutrition in Africa during a panel session, highlighting the various critical roles the private sector plays in transforming the food system and enabling access to healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food.  In addition to this, the various SME interventions implemented under GAIN’s Nutrition Enterprise Unit, especially the SUN Business Network (SBN), the Nutrition Impact at Scale (NIS) which is currently being implemented in 6 African Countries and the Nutrition Food Financing Facility (N3F) which is targeting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim to prepare companies to tap into large investments in nutrition.

Maureen also presented a case study on private sector engagement in nutrition; sub- national Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN) engagement and the innovative approach by Nairobi-based SME, Kwanza Tukule, that uses clean energy by pre-cooking food mainly pulses using biogas before packing and distributing it to over 300 food vendors in peri-urban areas for sell to consumers. This provided a practical case study of how the private sector contributes to improving nutrition outcomes and the need to support more private sector businesses with financing, technical assistance, policy/ strategy development or review.   

Innovative financing models are key to increase nutrition financing in the continent recognizing well-nourished populations are catalysts to economic development. GAIN, through SBN in collaboration with WFP, continues to provide a great platform to support businesses to integrate and improve nutrition within the context of their country’s national nutrition priorities to meet the regional commitments. 

Read more about the event HERE