Africa day is observed annually to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which was created on the 25th of May 1963. It provides an opportunity to celebrate African diversity and success, and to highlight the cultural and economic potential that exists on the African continent. The Africa day celebrations acknowledge the progress that Africans have made while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in a global, regional and local context.

This year’s Africa day is themed: the year of nutrition by the African union, aiming to secure greater political commitment and investment in nutrition.

  Malnutrition rates across Africa remain unacceptably high and Africa is now the only region where chronic malnutrition in children under 5 is still on the rise. At the same time, overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases related to the quality of diets are increasing rapidly, worsening morbidity and mortality rates. Malnutrition in all its forms, including under nutrition and obesity, accounts for 19 percent of ill-health and premature death globally – by far the largest cause. 

The combined impact of climate change, conflict and COVID-19 is threatening to push millions more children toward malnutrition, with lifelong consequences for their health and development, as well as for the prosperity of their communities. Urgent investment in nutrition interventions, especially targeting the most vulnerable, is an indispensable foundation to unlock human capital and build healthy and prosperous societies.

The 2022 theme of the African union celebrations is particularly important at this point where we face increased effects on the continent due to climate change and its effects on food production and food security.

Climate change exacerbates current threats to nutrition and food security. Under nutrition further challenges the health and coping mechanisms of vulnerable population, lessening their resistance and capacity to other consequences of climate change. Without action, climate change will impact nutrition through decreased food quantity and access, decreased dietary diversity, and decreased food nutritional content.

This Africa day, we call for a climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive food system in order to ensure that mitigation and adaptation strategies take nutrition into account, for the 2030 emission reduction plans to be strengthened by the end of 2022 and for the reduction of coal usage and fossil fuel subsidies sped up. We call for immediate action and seek justice for the most vulnerable amongst us, to ensure a safe and equitable environment for all. HAPPY AFRICA DAY!!!

By Ahmed Farydah