Civil Society Organisation-Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) has described as “insignificant” government’s allocation of funds towards fighting malnutrition, adding that consequently, the fight will not produce intended results.

Speaking to journalists after presenting a budget analysis report to the Parliamentary Committee on budgeting, CSO-SUN director Matthew Mhuru said Zambia cannot be expected to win the fight against malnutrition with low allocations in the 2019 national budget.

He noted that the budget only allocates K16 per child for the whole year, instead of the required K400.

“Zambia has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition or ‘stunting’ rates across Africa — a staggering 40 per cent of children are stunted, meaning their bodies, brains and immune systems have not developed as they should. Reducing the levels of malnutrition in Zambia has been a key priority as evidenced at various moments, including the National Nutrition Summit, and the Vice-President’s directive to permanent secretaries to improve nutrition funding. We note that the [2019] budget speech did not appropriately address nutrition, which is not consistent with the narrative of prioritisation, if we are truly to reduce all forms of malnutrition, this needs to be reflected in the budget speech. Major nutrition specific lines including; infant and young child feeding; growth monitoring and promotion; micronutrient have all received cuts. Specifically, we note that the budget line on management of malnutrition has not been indicated in the Yellow Book raising concern as to whether it will be adequately funded,” said Mhuru.

“Taxation on powdered milk is commendable in particular as it relates to infant formula as it may encourage exclusive breastfeeding. Similar taxation should be extended to unhealthy foods (high in salt, fat and sugar) and monies realised be invested in nutrition interventions. The 2019 national budget only allocates K16 per child for the whole year, instead of K400. Ministry of Health budget for nutrition has dropped from K19,254,018 in 2018 to K17,395,265 in the 2019 budget. Management of malnutrition allocation has not been indicated in the Yellow Book. Integrated management of childhood illnesses has reduced by about K900,000. (Promotion of) crop diversification and yield improvement has been reduced by K1,412,938; nutrition and Education has been reduced by K400,000; promotion of conservation agriculture have significantly dropped. All these cannot help us win in the fight against malnutrition.”