Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) centre coodinator Chenai Mukumba says Zambia is among the countries struggling with alarming levels of malnutrition because of mono-diets.

In an interview on the sidelines of a Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) organised workshop dubbed Sustainable Diets for All, Mukumba observed that Zambians had to start dealing with the challenge of malnutrition because most households had been relying on the same type of food for a long time.

Mukumba said there was need for Zambians to diversify their diets in order to create a healthy nation.

“As civil society organisations, we want to see how we can influence the consumption behaviour of ourselves as a country. We have issues of malnutrition that are quite alarming as a country and part of this reason is because we tend to have mono diets. Which means that basically as a population we are eating mostly just one type of food and what this means is that we are not getting the sufficient nutrients that we need. So because of that, I think some of you may recall, there was a report that was released to the effect that Zambia was third hungriest country in the world. Most people were shocked wondering how that was possible…but I think we need to be able to create a difference between being full, which I believe is most of the people’s objective when they are eating rather than actually getting the sufficient nutrients for maintaining a healthy diets,” Mukumba explained.

Mukumba disclosed that most civil society organisations in the country had already started working around influencing government policies that involve the food that people eat.

“Sustainable Diets for All is a campaigns by a number of us as CSOs having to see how we can influence when people are much more thoughtful about the food that they are eating and also thinking about they can also start eating even indigenous foods because that’s where main of the ingredients we need are. So as civil organisations, each of us are playing a different role to see how we can influence these policies. For us for example as CUTS, what we will be doing in the next couple of months is working very closely with those in the informal sector. We did a study last year which indicated that most consumers actually purchase their food from the informal shops rather than from the supper markets,” said Mukumba.

“And so we are trying to see how we can potentially work with the city council to see how can number one, create food policy then also secondly see how we can get marketeers on the informal sector to start having a much more wider variety of food that they are providing for consumers. Our colleagues for example here at CSPR, a lot of their interventions are actually around how they can influence actual policies so they go for engagements with parliamentarians as well as the Ministry of Agriculture to see how they can develop or contribute to the development of crop diversification strategy.”