IGAD launches regional taskforce in Nairobi to tackle food insecurity

IGAD launches regional taskforce in Nairobi to tackle food insecurity

Representatives from IGAD unveil the Learning Network on Nutrition Surveillance (LeNNS) system at a Nairobi Hotel on Tuesday. PHOTO| COURTESY

  • The Learning Network on Nutrition Surveillance (LeNNS), with the support of USAID, hosted its first technical meeting, with the goal of establishing effective policies, advocacy and action planning around nutrition in the region. 

With food insecurity and malnutrition affecting communities in the region, it is important to seek out long-term solutions.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has launched a regional technical working group in Nairobi that will work to address these challenges through policy recommendations. 

The Learning Network on Nutrition Surveillance (LeNNS), with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted its first technical meeting, with the goal of establishing effective policies, advocacy and action planning around nutrition in the region. Nutritional surveillance is the monitoring of dietary intake to make decisions that lead to improved nutrition. 

Dr. Patrick Amoth, Kenya's Director General at the Ministry of Health and Chief Guest at the event, indicated that the LeNNS will promote the generation of timely information and evidence, and improve on how the information is used to inform effective policies, strategies and programs across the region.

He reiterated the need for the network to address pragmatic and pressing food and nutrition challenges in the region.

The LeNNS is a regional opportunity to map the countries’ and institutional actions in nutrition surveillance, help develop an understanding of the needs for nutrition surveillance, and discuss viable ways of strengthening the linkages among different actors in nutrition surveillance.     

“Malnutrition and food insecurity pose major threats to global, regional and national social economic and development goals,” said John Kuehnle, USAID Health Director. “USAID is committed to working with countries to strengthen national nutrition information systems, sub-national nutrition data availability and use, and capacity strengthening around nutrition data.”

The event marks a significant milestone for the region: linking policy makers and research institutions across eight countries, committed to working across borders and beyond institutional priorities.

The overarching goal of this multisectoral effort for LeNNS is to combat malnutrition and food insecurity, by strengthening collaboration in the areas of diet quality, routine surveillance, nutrition biomarkers, and indicators. 

Others in attendance were other government ministries, universities, research institutions and other nutrition stakeholders in the region. Countries represented in the launch were: Djibouti, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.         

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