Nutrition Budget Reduced From 3.7 Percent to 2.9
Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Nutrition has expressed concern with the reduced allocation to the Nutrition Department in the 2021/2022 National Budget from K80 billion to K58 billion.
The committee’s Chairperson, Deus Gumba, made the remarks Wednesday in Lilongwe during the dissemination workshop for Analysis of the 2021/2022 National Budget with a focus on nutrition.
He said the reduction might seem minimal, but it would cost the country hugely in the long run.
“Just imagine, resources amounting to K147 billion are lost every year as a consequence of under-nutrition in children,” Gumba said.
He recalled that Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) III stipulates that five percent of the total budget should be allocated towards nutrition.
“We seemed to be going in the right direction with the 2020/2021 budget as nutrition was allocated 3.7 percent of the total budget.
“[But] we have digressed this year as instead of going up from the 3.7 percent which was allocated last year, we have gone down,” he pointed out, saying in the current budget estimates, only 2.9 percent has been allocated to nutrition.
According to Gumba, the country still has no law on nutrition despite so many attempts to have the Food and Nutrition Bill tabled in Parliament since 2018.
“We have taken note of funding challenges encountered in the nutrition sector in the ending financial year as well as recommendations that have been proposed during the meeting,” he said.
Gumba committed to continuing lobbying treasury to increase the allocation towards nutrition so that it is in tandem with what is provided in Malawi Vision 2063 and MGDS III.
“We commit to lobbying for the devolution of nutrition resources to local government authorities to effectively support the delivery of delegated nutrition functions.
“It is high time the budget line should be provided to councils on nutrition,” he appealed.
Civil Society Organizations Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) National Coordinator, Bessie Ndovi, said there is compelling evidence generated economically which shows eliminating malnutrition could have huge economic gains.
She said the National Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy recognizes that nutrition is a prerequisite for social and economic growth for the country.
“The country is grappling with multiple burdens of malnutrition such as child stunting, wasting and underweight at 37.1 percent, 3 percent and 11. 7 percent respectively,” Ndovi stated.
On his part, Oxfam Livelihood Resilience Manager, Steve Kuliyazi, hailed the German Cooperation and GIZ Malawi for providing financial support to his organization to implement a project that aims at influencing the ‘Increase in Resource Allocation and Accountability for the Nutrition Sector in Malawi’.
He said increased investment in the nutrition sector would reduce malnutrition levels significantly.
Written By: Tione Andsen-MANA