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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Transform Nutrition West Africa have recently presented work that aimed to shed light on the trends in research and identify gaps in knowledge on adolescent nutrition in the region. To further develop this Jiwani et al.  recently published an article on the Trends and inequalities in the nutritional status of adolescent girls and adult women…

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By Roos Verstraeten The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown measures have not only caused a global health crisis but also an economic crisis, which together have had an impact on food security and malnutrition globally. Estimates showed that the pandemic could push 148 million people into extreme poverty this year, representing an increase of…

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Evidence Notes

Adolescent nutrition in West Africa is the focus of our latest Evidence Note. We have mapped research in this area to shed light on the trends in research and identify gaps in knowledge. Adolescents have often been overlooked in nutrition policy and programming. However, there is growing momentum to target this group through the Global…

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by Roos Verstraeten (TNWA/IFPRI), Rebecca Heidkamp (DataDENT) and Barbara Baille (UNICEF) The Together for Nutrition: West African Data Forum was convened in Saly, Senegal in February 2020 by a group of regional and global partners. The group was led by Transform Nutrition West Africa, an initiative of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and…

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Analysis of nutrition research networks in West Africa: Application of social network analysis to co-authorship data to understand and enhance collaboration Description: The World Health Assembly (WHA) targets are instrumental for identifying primary knowledge gaps and priority areas for action and decision-making. Across West Africa, prevalence of these six WHA indicators for maternal infant and…

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Evidence Notes

This brief summarizes nutrition-relevant policies, strategies, and action plans in West Africa. With a focus on the six nutrition challenges that make up the World Health Assembly global targets, we examine: i) nutrition context, policy objectives, indicators, budget, and activities, ii) key beneficiaries, actors and coordination, iii) monitoring, evaluation, and accountability, and iv) the extent…