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Malawi sparkles on ending hunger index

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Malawi has ranked on position two out of 45 African countries for its commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition among its people, the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index – Africa (Hanci-Africa) has indicated.

The rankings, produced by the Institute of Development Studies (UK) with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), was released on Thursday with South Africa at the top.

The Hanci-Africa compares and ranks the performance of 45 African countries based on 22 indicators of political commitment. The indicators are split between indicators of commitment to hunger reduction (10 indicators) and indicators relating to commitment to addressing under nutrition (12 indicators).

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By separately analysing nutrition commitment and hunger reduction commitment the index identifies how governments prioritise action on hunger and/or under nutrition.

According to the index, Malawi’s spending on agriculture (23.45 percent of public spending in 2014) meets government commitments set out in the African Union’s Maputo Declaration (10 percent of public spending).

It further said Malawi’s spending in its health sector (16.8 percent of public spending in 2014) exceeds commitment (15 percent) set out in the Abuja Declaration.

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“Relative to other Hanci countries, Malawi’s medium/long term national development policy (Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II) assigns strong importance to nutrition. Malawi instituted a separate budget line for nutrition, enabling transparency and accountability for spending.”

The National Nutrition Policy/ Strategy identifies time bound nutrition targets and a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder policy coordination mechanism has been set up. Policymakers in Malawi benefit from regular nutrition surveys that are statistically representative at national level,” reads the report.

The last survey was published in 2013-2014.

Despite facing one of the worst hunger crises in recent history the past two years, President Peter Mutharika has, on a number of times, said that no one will die of hunger.

However, the index has also pointed out some areas that need to be improved in Malawi.

It says the law gives women and men equal economic rights and equal legal access to agricultural land but that these laws are not effectively enforced and discriminatory practices against women continue, increasing their vulnerability to hunger and under nutrition.

“The Government of Malawi has only achieved two high doses of vitamin A supplementation for 41 percent of children in 2014. Weak access to improved sanitation facilities (41 percent in 2015) obstructs better hunger and nutrition outcomes.

“Social safety nets in Malawi are basic and only cover few risks for a limited number of beneficiaries. Civil registration rates are weak (63.9 percent in 2014) and potentially hold back children’s access to critical public services such as health and education,” reads the report.

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