Despite limited progress to date, we now see a growing political commitment to address the high rates of maternal and child undernutrition in the West African region. This commitment needs to be effectively translated into appropriate policy choices and program action to generate major large-scale and sustained change. Recognizing this, Transform Nutrition-West Africa aims to improve and support policy and program decisions and actions to accelerate reductions in maternal and child malnutrition through an inclusive process of knowledge generation and mobilization.

Regional Nutrition Challenges

Across West Africa, prevalence of the six World Health Assembly indicators for Maternal, infant, and young child nutrition remain high. The region continues to show unacceptably high rates of childhood stunting (19.2 million (31.4%) in 2016), accounting for half of the stunting increase in Africa since 2000 (UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank Group 2017). Currently, West Africa is one of five sub-regions in the world with stunting rates higher than 30% (ranking 4th, after Oceania (38%), East Africa (37%), and South Asia (34%)) (UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank Group 2017).

From 2000 to 2016, there has been a slow but steady increase in the prevalence of U5 overweight/obesity (1.9 million (3%) in 2016) (UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank Group 2017), and there continues to be a pervasive and an excessively prevalent burden of anaemia (ranging from ~52-88%) in U5 children (Annex 1). In addition, the prevalence of wasting and LBW are at 9% and 16% respectively, the highest when compared to the all other regions in Africa (Development Initiatives 2017).

Policy landscape

Most West African countries (with variation among them) have increased the use of policy instruments for nutrition and the establishment of multisectoral national nutrition coordination bodies. Transform Nutrition West Africa will work closely with the African Leaders Network, the African Union, ECOWAS, WAHO, national SUN teams and national and regional CAADP teams to help foster demand for evidence which is crucial to accelerate reductions in maternal and child malnutrition.

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Countdown to 2030 and TNWA collaborate on regional workshop

Transform Nutrition West Africa is collaborating with Countdown to 2030 on a Regional Nutrition Workshop which aims to: (1) enhance the evidence for nutrition-related issues for women, children and adolescents in West Africa, and (2) strengthen the capacity for analysis of nutrition data from household surveys and other sources. The workshop will take place June…

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Nutrition Exchange – sharing experiences from West Africa

ENN’s SUN Knowledge Management project has focused on documenting the experiences and lessons learned from nutrition policy and programming in a number of regions, including West and Central Africa. One of ENN’s publications, Nutrition Exchange (NEX), shares articles by practitioners for practitioners working at national and sub-national level in nutrition and related sectors. The most…

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Key regional actors agree joint Nutrition working plan

In February 2019, Transform Nutrition West Africa, Alive & Thrive, and UNICEF participated in a dialogue in Bobo Dialassou, Burkina Faso to agree upon key nutritional activities to collaborate on with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO). WAHO outlined their priority activities in the region and ongoing regional initiatives and TNWA, A&T ECOWAS, and UNICEF…

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Addressing the emerging overweight and obesity public health challenges in West Africa

By Karin Christianson, Food and Agriculture Organization, Regional Office Accra, Ghana and Lucy Billings, International Food Policy Research Institute Undernutrition, historically a focus for the West African nutrition community, took a back seat at a recent event entitled Addressing the emerging overweight and obesity public health challenges in West Africa. This multi-stakeholder consultative dialogue, organized by…