Over the last twenty years, the number of children suffering from chronic malnutrition has increased in West and Central Africa. This major public health problem can be explained by the unsuitability of complementary foods given to young children.
Faced with these challenges, together with NGO Alive Thrive, the regional UNICEF office organised a consultative meeting in Dakar from 18 to 21 February last to focus on improving access to and use of affordable, healthy, sustainable nutritious foods for young children aged 6 to 23 months in the West and Central Africa region.
This event brought together approximately one hundred participants from the various countries in the region, with government representatives, United Nations agencies, NGOs, the private sector, researchers and experts in the area of young child feeding practices at national, regional and international level.
With a wealth of experience in nutrition in the sub-region, GRET was part of the consultative technical group made up of experts who contributed to organising these four days of consultation. Together with its partners IRD and Iram, conducted a context study on the infant flour sector, presented on the first day to lay the bases for discussion on the main determining factors and obstacles for improving young child feeding practices. GRET also participated in a round table focusing on challenges and opportunities for food systems to improve young child feeding practices and facilitated several work sessions, including one on the difficulties encountered by the private sector to produce and market foods for children that are both good quality and affordable.
These four days made it possible to discuss experiences, knowledge and lessons learnt to improve young child feeding practices on a larger scale, issue recommendations via the new UNICEF global framework and identify priority actions to be implemented in the various countries in the region.