SUN Coordinator visits Malawi and joins SUN 3.0 Strategy launch presided over by President Chakwera
From 31 August to 3 September, Ms Gerda Verburg, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and SUN Movement Coordinator, travelled to Lilongwe, Malawi, on her first official visit to a member State since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In addition to delivering key remarks at the high-level national launch of the SUN Movement Strategy for 2021-2025, held on 2 September, the SUN Coordinator met with key Government representatives. During these meetings, she discussed the importance of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration to tackle malnutrition and the critical importance of nutrition on reliant communities and economies in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic with Minister of Agriculture, H.E Mr Lobin C. Lowe; Minister of Finance, H.E Mr Felix Mlusu; Minister of Health, H.E Ms Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda; Minister of Education, H.E Ms Agnes NyaLonje, in addition to the Hon. Madalitso Kazombo, first Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Malawi.
“Malawi has been a SUN Movement member country since 2011, and, since then has demonstrated clear achievements. So much so that it was one of SUN’s ‘early risers’ – those developing countries that had begun to scale up nutrition action at the national level,” stressed SUN Coordinator Verburg.
Since joining the SUN Movement in 2011, ensuring the right enabling environment has helped Malawi significantly reduce several forms of malnutrition. Stunting has been reduced from 47 to 33 per cent in 2021; iron deficiency has gone down from 51 to 22 per cent; and Vitamin A deficiency has been reduced from 22 to 4 per cent.
The SUN Coordinator also met with the UN Country Team in Malawi and was accompanied by UN Resident Coordinator Maria José Torres Macho to many of her engagements. In addition to meeting with the On her agenda was also catching up with the SUN multi-stakeholder platform for nutrition in Malawi, to kickstart the mission, the SUN Coordinator had the opportunity to catch up with SUN Country Coordinator and longstanding member of the SUN Movement Executive Committee, Dr Felix Pensulo Phiri, to discuss the next steps in Malawi’s plight to ensure good nutrition for all.
The launch event for the SUN Movement Strategy for its third phase (often referred to as the SUN 3.0 Strategy) in Malawi was attended by hundreds of participants, in situ and virtually, and served to “re-energise the country to cover up on the losses made over the years in the nutrition sector, including those perpetuated by COVID-19,” according to His Excellency President Chakwera, who presided over the event. The launch brought about strong commitments from a vast range of stakeholders, including the President announcing that his administration will reinstate frontline nutrition officers – for maximum impact at local levels, as advocated for by His Excellency Vice President of Malawi Saulus Chilima in his address. The United Nations, the SUN Donor Network of Malawi – the Donor Nutrition Security Group (DONUTS) – local and religious leaders, young people, Parliament, the SUN Civil Society Alliance – the Civil Society on Nutrition Alliance – the private sector, academia and public sectors, also made commitments to effectively scale up nutrition and implementing government priorities, together, which bodes well for the future of Malawi.
“It was an honour to take part in Malawi’s launch of the SUN 3.0 Strategy,” said Ms Verburg. “The powerful launch event really demonstrated the strong energy, commitment, and ambition here in Malawi – across all sectors, led by the President – to fight malnutrition in all its forms towards making good nutrition understood, accessible and affordable for every family in Malawi. I was also touched by the strong and concrete commitments of 10 stakeholder groups, including traditional and religious leaders, media and young people. I will share this inspiring example with other SUN country movements.”