Big Win at UNGA: Taking stock of progress in Ethiopia’s fight against stunting
Alongside the Government of Ethiopia and the African Development Bank (AfDB), Big Win Philanthropy co-convened a high-level side event during the 74th UN General Assembly to take stock of the progress made in Ethiopia’s fight against stunting.
The event centered around Ethiopia’s Seqota Declaration, the government’s high-level commitment to end stunting in children under two by 2030. Launched in 2015, the Seqota Declaration is an innovative, evidence-based framework for accelerating multisectoral interventions to improve nutrition outcomes at household level.
The event was hosted by the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Sahle Work Zewdie, who set the scene for the discussion, noting “the Seqota Declaration highlights Ethiopia’s firm commitment to bring the value of nutrition to the forefront of its development agenda.” She emphasized the government’s continued commitment to the effort, adding that “to sustain the government ownership and leadership, leaders are actively engaged at national, regional and district levels. For this financial year, which started in July 2019, the federal government has allocated over $16 million USD to execute the Seqota Declaration priority interventions, reaching over 1.4 million people.”
The President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, also delivered a keynote speech during the event, highlighting the importance of investing in nutrition across the continent. “Investing in nutrition builds human capital, creates opportunities to create a healthy workforce, extends life expectancy and lifetime productivity,” President Adesina noted. He also reiterated the Bank’s support for the Seqota Declaration, announcing that “we will be presenting to our board of directors a request to commit $38 million USD to the Seqota Initiative.”
President Adesina also acknowledged Big Win’s role in supporting multisectoral nutrition initiatives in Ethiopia and across the continent, saying: “I am delighted we will be working closely together with my dear sister Ms. Jamie Cooper and other partners that are here and her own foundation that is doing great work.”
Big Win Chair and President Jamie Cooper delivered closing remarks the event, highlighting why she sees the initiative as a “big win” for Ethiopia, which can provide a model for other countries. “It’s an incredible honor to have been asked by the government to come behind this initiative and this vision of the Seqota Declaration to wipe out stunting in this country. This is an African-owned issue, and this is the first reason I think this is a ‘big win’. The second ‘big win’ story for me is about the collaboration going on in Ethiopia. It is incredible what they are doing from distributing one million chickens, to fixing irrigation and creating dams that don’t evaporate, right down to getting to every household with one indicator – child growth monitoring. I believe with all my heart that we are soon to see the third ‘big win’, which will be the elimination of stunting in this area and in Ethiopia.”
Other speakers participating in the event included: Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery at the World Health Organization, Dr. Samira Asma; Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Ato Gedu Andargachew; Commissioner, Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, Prof. Fekadu Beyene; UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, Ms. Gerda Verburg; Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Dr. Shenggen Fan; CEO, Save the Children International, Ms. Inger Ashing; CEO, Power of Nutrition, Mr. Martin Short; and Senior Advisor, Office of the State Minister of Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Ferew Lemma.
For further information about the Seqota Declaration, watch the video below or download the materials at the links provided. A recording of the full event can also be found here.