CSOs commend Malawi govt for increasing budgetary allocation to nutrition

Civil Society Organizations Nutrition Alliance (CSONA), a coalition of local and international non-governmental organizations working in the nutrition sector, has commended the Tonse-led administration for increasing allocation to nutrition.

Consultant Humphrey Mdyetseni presenting his budget analysis before MPs–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
Gumba: We will continue lobbying for improvements in the nutrition sector–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
Ndovi: This is the right direction towards achieving good nutrition for all Malawians–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
A cross-section of the MPs following the presentation of the budget analysis–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The Malawi government has remarkably increased the nutrition allocation from 0.5 percent in the 2019/20 national budget to 3.7 percent of the 2020/21 national budget.

The allocation jump has excited the CSOs, which have been lamenting the negligible attention the government has been paying to the sector.

Speaking in her opening remarks at the National Budget Analysis Dissemination Workshop for members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to the the Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition, HIV and Aids in Lilongwe on Thursday evening, the CSONA national coordinator, Bessie Ndovi, described the increase in the allocation as a step in the right direction.

Ndovi vowed that CSOs will continue monitoring the expenditure to ensure that the allocated resources are used for their intended purposes and contribute towards eradication of all forms of hunger and malnutrition in Malawi in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.

She also commended President Lazarus Chakwera, for recognizing the importance of enacting the Food and Nutrition Bill in his maiden Statement of the Nation Address.

“We look forward to seeing it being discussed in parliament and subsequently passed into law. The bill is vital as it will help institutionalize the Food and Nutrition Council, food fortification, enforcement of food labelling laws and operationalize at greater scale the nutrition in school’s programme. Above all, the bill provides for the realization of the citizens’ right to food and good nutrition,” said Ndovi.

She expressed concern that in spite of the Malawi Government making its first commitment to enact the Nutrition Act by 2016 at the London Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2013, the bill remains in its draft form and yet to go to parliament for the consideration of the legislators.

“We therefore appeal to you, our nutrition champions, to be at the forefront in making sure that the enactment of the Food and Nutrition Bill is fast-tracked and that it responds to the needs of the Malawians you represent in the august House. This is to emphasize that you have the responsibility of ensuring that the proposed law safeguards for the rights of the ordinary citizens to food and nutrition,” she emphasized.

Ndovi also took advantage of the event to ask the MPs to consider repositioning the Department of Nutrition, HIV and Aids (DNHA) back to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and that is should be recognized as a sector with its own Principal Secretary to effectively be able to coordinate all other ministries in the implementation of nutrition interventions.

In his presentation, the budget analysis consultant, Humphrey Mudyetseni, observed that the national budgets have promoted ‘more consumption’ instead of investment.

Mudyetseni challenged the MPs to change this status quo if Malawi is to register meaningful socio-economic development that citizens have been yearning for.

The chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition, HIV and Aids, Deus Gumba-Banda, assured the CSOs that the legislators are keen to promote good nutrition by supporting policies and budgets that are designed for the same.

During plenary, majority of the MPs agreed with CSONA observations and pledged to use their powers to influence changes in the sector.

However, the MPs emphasized that the resource envelope in the government is too thin to accommodate ambitious plans and project in nutrition.

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