By James Mutua
The intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD Thursday launched a regional technical working group at a Nairobi hotel that is set to address challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition affected communities in the region.
The Learning Network on Nutrition Surveillance with the support of the US agency for International Development (USAID) hosted its first technical meeting with the goal of establishing effective policies, advocacy and action planning around nutrition in the region.
Chief guest Dr Patrick Amoth announced that LeNNS will promote the generation of timely information and evidence, and improve how the information is used to inform effective policies, strategies and programs across the region. He reiterated the need for the network to address pragmatic and pressing food and nutrition challenges in the region.
The LeNNS is a regional opportunity to map the countries’ and institutional actions in nutrition surveillance, help develop an understanding of the needs for nutrition surveillance, and discuss viable ways of strengthening the linkages among different actors in nutrition surveillance.
John Kuehnle USAID health director said malnutrition and food insecurity poses major threats to global, regional and national economic and development goals. He said that USAID is committed to work with countries to strengthen national nutrition information systems, sub-national nutrition data availability and use, and capacity strengthening around nutrition data. The event marked a significant milestone for the region linking policy makers and research institutions across eight countries, committed to working across borders and beyond institutional priorities.
Others in attendance were other government ministries, universities, research institutions and other nutrition stakeholders in the region. Countries represented in the launch were Djibouti, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.