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Malawi lawmakers challenged to upscale nutrition budgeting at council

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LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s Members of Parliament (MPs) have been challenged on up-scaling nutrition budget at local councils before national fiscal plan is being presented in the August House.

This will help the national budget to include actual issues affecting local council in increasing the budget on nutrition.

The lawmakers are therefore asked to lobby at local councils with government departments including health, education, gender, agriculture among others for required nutrition budget to reduce stunting and malnutrition.

The call was made this following 2018/2019 draft budget analysis Oxfam and Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (CSONA)-Malawi presented aimed at analysing adequacy of planned perfomance targets for nutrition budget in key sectors where nutrition in mainstreamed.

According to the report, the trend indicates improving nutrition allocations over the past three years with proportional at 0.6%, 0.5% and 0.9% in 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 respectively.

But the study reveals that there are some inconsistent provision for nutrition in some years for some key sectors.

This indicates that such sectors were either not implementing nutrition interventions as per their mandate or they were not disclosing resources committed to implementation on nutrition program.

Blessing Muwalo, Director for Nutrition told The Maravi Post that it was MPs task to lobby for proper budgeting for nutrition at councils where the actual national fiscal plan originates.

Muwalo observed that it was not making sense for lawmakers to lobby for increase of nutrition budget when the national budget was already presented at August House.

“National budgeting starts at council levels which much planning is done. So, MPs, CSOs must attend such meeting for effective output of the responsive budget for the nation,” urges Muwalo.

Parliamentary committee on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Chairperson Deus Gumba agreed with Muwalo that the lawmakers have a huge responsibility to tackle the nutrition budget to meet global target of 3% of the the country’s GDP.

Bessie Ndovi, CSONA Programs Manager observed that despite slight increase in nutrition budgeting year in year out, the nation is failing to meet the target of 3%.

Ndovi added that the budgeting trend has not helped to reduce much stunting which is at 37%.

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