Breaking out of silos to achieve nutrition and development goals: The Banking on Nutrition partnership

Members of the Banking on Nutrition partnership – the African Development Bank, Big Win Philanthropy, and the Aliko Dangote Foundation – reaffirmed their commitment to reduce child stunting and malnutrition across the African continent at a recent webinar about the progress of the partnership to date.

Big Win CEO and former Minister of Health of Ethiopia Dr. Kesete Admasu joined a high-level panel at the event, which shared lessons learned and analyzed the implementation of the partnership’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan 2018-2025. The panelists discussed the accomplishments of the partnership’s first five years, which were highlighted in the recently released “Banking on Nutrition Partnership Progress Report 2015-2020.”

During the panel, Dr. Kesete expressed Big Win’s continued support for the Banking on Nutrition partnership, saying “Helping the Bank meet its ambitious targets is our number one priority in terms of nutrition smart investments…We will continue to work with government contacts in rolling out multisectoral nutrition interventions.”

The Banking on Nutrition partnership was formed in 2015 in support of Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina’s commitment to rebalance the Bank’s portfolio towards people and human capital, supporting the development of Africa’s ‘grey matter infrastructure.’ As part of this effort, he recognized that nutrition was central to unlocking Africa’s human and economic potential. Under his leadership, the Bank set out to redesign investments in areas such as health, agriculture, WASH, social protection, and education – sectors that serve as underlying drivers of nutrition – which can deliver greater social and economic return and impact.

Dr. Kesete unscored the importance of the partnership’s multisectoral approach to nutrition, since “addressing nutrition involves requires the involvement of every sector that’s relevant to brain development and improvements in child health.”

Highlighting the impact of multisectoral nutrition-focused programs, the panel also discussed Ethiopia’s Seqota Declaration, a commitment to end stunting in children under two by 2030. Big Win has supported the Government of Ethiopia to develop this project since its inception, and the African Development Bank recently approved $48 million in funding to support the initiative under the Multi-Sectoral Approach for Stunting Reduction Project (MASReP). Speaking about the Seqota Declaration, Dr. Kesete said:

“These are nine ministries agreeing on priority interventions and bringing their expertise, resources, and know-how to deliver on those priorities by busting silos. [It] is an innovative approach, and, in my opinion, a new blueprint for development in Africa.”

Moving forward, the partnership will continue to implement the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan which sets sector-specific targets for increasing the proportion of nutrition-smart projects, or projects that that have one or more nutrition-related objectives or goals, a nutrition-related activity or intervention, and a nutrition-related indicator at the outcome or impact level.

The partnership will also prioritize initiatives in 10 countries based on the Bank’s Grey Matter Infrastructure Investment Index, which ranks countries based on their stunting rates and borrowing headroom. These countries are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, Madagascar, Kenya, Burundi, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

The webinar, titled “Unlocking Africa’s Developmental Goals Through Nutrition: Investing in ‘Grey Matter Infrastructure’ Initiatives,” was hosted by the African Development Bank.

The other panelists participating in the session were Zouera Youssoufou, CEO of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Joel Spicer, CEO of Nutrition International, Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry, African Development Bank, Osward Mulenga Chanda, Acting Director of Water Development and Sanitation Department, African Development Bank, Martha Phiri, Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department, African Development Bank, Geoffrey Lairumbi, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Officer, African Leaders for Nutrition Initiative, and Dr. Sisay Sinamo, Senior Program Manager, Seqota Declaration, Federal Program Delivery Unit, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia.

Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President of the Bank’s Agriculture, Human and Social Development Complex delivered opening remarks and the event was moderated by Babatunde Omilola, Division Manager, Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department, African Development Bank.

Learn more about the event and the Banking on Nutrition partnership here. The Banking on Nutrition Partnership Progress Report 2015-2020 can be found here. For more about the Seqota Declaration and Big Win’s support, click here.

Photo: Big Win CEO Dr. Kesete Admasu during a visit to the Seqota region.