UN Initiative & Ecobank Foundation To Prevent Chronic Malnutrition Among Children In Africa 

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UNITLIFE, the United Nations initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition through innovation, and the Ecobank Group’s Foundation the pan-African banking group with operations in 33 countries across the continent-announce the launch of the “Make the Connection” campaign, which aims to raise awareness and funds to prevent chronic malnutrition in Africa.

144 million children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition worldwide. The prevalence is highest in Africa, where as many as 24 African countries have rates above 30%. In other words, 1 in 3 African children do not eat a diet that meets their nutrient needs during the first 1,000 days of their lives. As a result, they face life-long consequences affecting their physical growth, cognitive development and immune systems.

The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to countries’ health systems and the global economies have exacerbated the malnutrition crisis in Africa. Nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruit and animal-sourced foods have become less accessible and less affordable for millions of families.

“Everywhere in Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disastrous effect on people’s income and ability to access nutritious foods. The Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium projects that an estimated 1.2 million additional children in Sub-Saharan Africa will be stunted in 2022 compared to 2019 due to interruptions in nutrition services and increased household poverty. It is imperative that we shine more light on chronic malnutrition in these challenging times. UNITLIFE is excited to partner with the Ecobank Foundation to raise awareness and funds to fight this disease”, says Assia Sidibe, Head of UNITLIFE Secretariat.

Ecobank is supporting the communication efforts of the campaign and bringing the necessary expertise to set-up the fundraising mechanisms. Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer, Ecobank Foundation explains: “At the Foundation, our aim is to create a positive impact on the lives of people across Africa. Supporting UNITLIFE helps us achieving our mission. We are glad we can contribute to allowing a healthier and more prosperous future for children in Africa.”

The “Make the connection” campaign stands in line with the ongoing global effort to mobilise additional resources for development and contributes to the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, especially SDG2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Chronic malnutrition is a disease that develops when children do not receive the nutrients they need during the first 1,000 days of life (through a women’s pregnancy until the child’s second birthday).

The consequences of chronic malnutrition stunted growth, impaired brain development and a weakened immune system are largely irreversible, preventing affected children from reaching their full potential. Today, 1 in 5 children worldwide are chronically malnourished.

Compared to their peers, chronically malnourished children struggle to do as well in school and on average earn 20% less as adults. The presence of chronic malnutrition is not only a human tragedy, but also an enormous obstacle to countries’ economic development.

In Africa, where chronic malnutrition affects 1 in every 3 children, the cost of undernutrition in some countries is estimated to be up to 16% of GDP. Despite affecting 144 million children worldwide, chronic malnutrition lacks public awareness.

UNITLIFE is the United Nations initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition through innovation. It was established by established by UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and UN Women.

​UNITLIFE finances nutritious food systems and invests in women’s empowerment and climate-smart agriculture. With this approach, UNITLIFE aims to save the next generation.

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