Botswana’s Vice President declares nutrition a priority at a national conference
From 24 to 26 November 2015, a nutrition advocacy conference titled “Nutrition partnerships and investments: an imperative towards sustainable development”, was held in Gaborone, Botswana, bringing together local, national and global partners to discuss multi-sectoral approaches to nutrition and the necessary investments needed from each sector. . The event built on the momentum of Botswana’s commitment to join the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement in April 2015 and united other middle income countries experiencing similar challenges in nutrition: Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Zimbabwe attended the event which also served as a useful platform for inter-country learning exchange.
Specific objectives for the meeting included:
- Highlighting nutrition as a viable and imperative economic investment towards poverty eradication
- Achieving buy-in, goodwill and commitment of high-level decision-makers for a multi-sectoral nutrition approach in Botswana
- Sharing experiences in promoting nutrition and improving nutritional status with other countries in the sub-region
- Outlining nutrition priorities and way forward for scaling up nutrition in Botswana
Guest speakers included Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato, Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Pule Ralotsia, and Nahas Angula, the Former Prime Minister of Namibia and member of the SUN Movement Lead Group.
“Investing in clear nutrition action, be it in health, agriculture, education, social protection, water, sanitation, hygiene and women’s empowerment programmes improves cognitive performance for a better knowledge and skills acquisition for a positive contribution to nation building,” – Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President, Botswana
Nahas Angula encouraged policy makers to develop an agile framework for action that is flexible and adaptable, with clear goals and targets. He added that time, money and people were key and be allocated for. He also recognised three opportunities made available by being a part of the SUN Movement:
- Opportunities for efforts to be recognized on a global stage
- Opportunities for accessing support from global SUN Networks and potentially funding
- Opportunities to share and learn through Country Network Meetings
Vice President Mokgweetsi underlined that nutrition is a national priority which will contribute to nation building, peace and security. He stressed that nutrition needs to be understood and positioned as an input and an outcome of success of human development and added that optimum nutrition is vital for saving lives and preventing illness.
Botswana is currently developing the 11th National Development Plan for 2016-2020 and Vision 2036. These represent important opportunities for the integration of nutrition as a priority in Botswana’s medium and long term development goals. In support of this, development partners assured Botswana of their commitment to prioritising nutrition during this planning phase and throughout implementation to ensure that national development goals can be realised.