HIVOS says many people in Zambia are either hungry or obese because of unhealthy diets.

Hivos Southern Africa Hub Zambia is hosting a series of Sustainable Diets for All (SD4ALL) meetings this month.

The conference has brought together a total of 60 participants from different parts of the world who are working on the Sustainable Food Programme.

Hivos Southern Africa Zambia will take the lead in planning the meeting and will utilize the opportunity to position the sustainable food programme in Zambia both locally and globally.

Hivos senior programme manager for sustainable diets Frank Mechielsen said the organization was working with other civil society organisations to influence the policies and practices of governments and the private sector in the world to prioritize good nutrition.

“We are working on a programme for sustainable diets because the food system changes. There are a lot of people still not having access to healthy and diverse foods. As you know, in many countries like Zambia, there are still many people who are hungry but also, there are people who are obese because of the unhealthy diet. We really want to make a change with this programme,” Mechielsen said.

“Our main concern about Zambia is that it uses monocropping of maize only. But there are a lot of attempts from the government to change this fact because it makes the country vulnerable to climate change. It is also not very healthy to just eat maize. We need a variety of foods. We have to work with the people themselves because people nowadays know what is good for them. But what I hear from the people of Zambia is that there is potential in the diversification of crop; for example millet, sorghum.”

Mechielsen said his organisation believes the media can play an important role in informing and educating society on sustainable diets.

“We also have a programme for the media because people don’t really have much understanding on issues of diets…all they know is something to do with Coca-cola, I don’t know if you have McDonalds here…they go for highly processed foods and it is not healthy. We want the media to help write stories about traditional foods, proper diets…it will help us. We are working in Zambia, Bolivia and Indonesia with civil society organisations to try and influence governments and the private sector to try and make this change in policies towards more healthy, sustainable and diverse food production and also more healthy consumption,” said Mechielsen.