LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Nutrition and Civil Society Organizations Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) are unhappy with continual dwindling of nutrition budget year in year out.
The Nutrition Department allocation in the 2021/2022 National Budget has been reduced from MK80 billion to MK58 billion representing 3.7 per cent to 2.9.
The committee’s Chairperson, Deus Gumba, made the remarks Wednesday in in the capital Lilongwe during the dissemination workshop for Analysis of the 2021/2022 National Budget with 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 MK147 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 per cent 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 per cent of the total budget.
“[But] we have digressed this year as instead of going up from the 3.7 per cent which was allocated last year, we have gone down,” he pointed out, saying in the current budget estimates, only 2.9 per cent 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 lobby 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.
CSONA National Coordinator, Bessie Ndovi, said there is compelling evidence generated economically which shows eliminating malnutrition could have a huge economic gains.
She said the National Multi-Sector Nutrition Policy recognises 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 per cent, 3 per cent and 11. 7 per cent respectively,” Ndovi stated.