Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on Parliament to deliberate and pass the Food and Nutrition Bill during the next meeting.
The bill provides for the establishment of a food and nutrition council that will promote the respect and protection of the right to food and adequate nutrition for all.
It also has provisions that will make it mandatory for all food producers involved in processing and pre-packaging to label their products so that people know what they are consuming.
In a joint statement Oxfam, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa), Civil Society Organisations, Nutrition Alliance (Csona) and Malawi Volunteer Organisation press the government of Malawi to pass the bill as part of its commitments aimed at fighting malnutrition and ensuring that everyone is free from hunger.
“Legislation on the Right to Food and Nutrition would be a key legal instrument that would help addresses some of the challenges Malawi is facing in as far as nutrition is concerned,” the CSOs say in a joint statement.
The statement goes on to say that although Malawi has yielded positive gains over the years from nutrition programing by reducing stunting rate from 47 percent in 2010 to 37 percent in 2016, slow progress has been registered as the clock ticks towards the 2025 target.
Recent statistics show that stunting is at 36 percent and the country has poor infant and young child feeding practices with only 8 percent of children’s population aged 6-23 months meeting their minimum acceptable diets.
“Malawi is experiencing other forms of nutrition challenges including high rise of obesity especially in women which is currently standing at 36 percent, this is exposing thousands of people to risks of non- communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular conditions, which are estimated to account for 32 percent, of total deaths in Malawi,” reads the statement.
The bill, which has been under deliberations since 2003, entails that food and nutrition shall be adequate, available and accessible commensurate with age, sex, state of health or occupation of a person in order to allow the person to grow, develop and maintain physical and mental wellbeing.
It is also aligned to the recommendations made by the UN-Special Rapporteur on Right to Food that asks governments to establish a framework law on the Right to Food, to ensure inter-sectorial coordination, transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness in policy making.
Eric Msikiti is a Senior Reporter/News Producer at Times Group. Though relatively young, Eric boasts years of experience in Malawi’s media industry.