Graça Machel joins civil society in Malawi for a nutrition champion building workshop
On 20 August 2015, Graça Machel, an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, Founder and Chair of the Graca Machel Trust and South Africa’s former first lady, made a two day visit to accelerate efforts to improve nutrition in Malawi. Her visit was to inspire others and advocate for nutrition at a nutrition champion building workshop with the Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) and Members of Parliament.
Graça Machel shared that the messages of scaling up nutrition within the first 1,000 days (from pregnancy to two years) should be clear, and that during this window of opportunity, 80 percent of a child’s brain is formed and cemented based on whether or not they had quality nutrition and care. Without quality nutrition, children can be permanently stunted and malnourished, resulting in under-performance of their brain, thereby impacting negatively on social and economic of the country. She said that there is a lack of awareness on nutrition among child bearing women which can lead to malnutrition and stunting.
“We need to sharpen these messages given to the vulnerable population to ensure that they are well informed so that they can easily follow them” – Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust
At the end of the workshop, legislators said they were encouraged to demonstrate community support, prioritising nutrition across all sectors and made commitments to build support and visibility to elevate nutrition on national and district level agendas in the lead up to the “2016 Nutrition for Growth Summit” in Rio, Brazil.
“I Lucious Banda, recognise the critical role of nutrition in decreasing deaths and increasing health education outcomes, and economic growth,” – Lucious Banda, Member of Parliament, Balaka North, Malawi
Lucious Banda, a Parliamentarian from Balaka North made his commitment amongst cheers from fellow legislators and added that challenges in nutrition include the “fashionisation” of foods were people are ignoring local foods with high nutritional value and are instead, buying exotic foods that are expensive and unsustainable.
Ralph Jooma, Member of Parliament for Mangochi Monkey Bay, challenged civil society organisations at the event to identify the budget lines and sectors where they want nutrition programmes to be funded.
“Nutrition is not a stand alone issue and you need to strategically plan what you want to be funded if we are to achieve the nutrition agenda… Budget allocation is not the problem affecting nutrition projects in the country, but monitoring of funds allocated to nutrition programmes” – Ralph Jooma, Member of Parliament for Mangochi Monkey Bay, Malawi
Graça Machel also visited Malunje Primary School in Lilongwe district where she appealed to girls who had dropped out of school to consider coming back. She was accompanied by Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, who said that the government is committed to ensuring that girls access education by putting in place conducive policies and programmes. One initative mentioned was the construction of girls’ hostels in secondary schools to ensure that girls do not need to cover long distances to get to and from school.
“Parents, guardians, traditional and religious leaders and the community in general have a responsibility to ensure that every girl child goes to school regardless of the obstacles that are there,” – Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust
Talking nutrition with Graca Machel. Awesomeness. …