Malnutrition in Africa

The high prevalence of all forms of malnutrition worldwide is a matter of great concern, and in African countries as well. Eastern Africa is one of the world sub-regions most affected by stunting, with a prevalence of 35%. At the same time, other forms of malnutrition prevail in Northern Africa, with high and increasing rates of overweight and obesity among children (11%) and adult (around 25%) populations. At the same time, anaemia among women of reproductive age has also reached the highest levels in Africa. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is also widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among children aged < 5 years (prevalence > 40%). VAD is associated with high mortality from Diarrhoeal diseases and measles.

Although malnutrition can manifest in multiple ways, the path to prevention to all its forms includes an adequate maternal diet, as well as nutritious, diverse, traditional and safe and tasty foods, in particular vegetables, in early childhood and beyond.

Thus the need to ensure that nutritious foods are accessible, affordable and desired for all citizens and in these two African sub-regions.

Food variety and diverse, healthy diets

FoodLAND project aims to develop, implement and validate innovative, scalable and sustainable technologies aimed at supporting the nutrition performance of local food systems in Africa, while strengthening agro-biodiversity and food diversity as well as diversity of healthy diets.

The nexus between agro-biodiversity, food diversity and healthy diets plays a crucial role in the development of resilient and nutrition-sensitive food system. Indeed, there are a series of factors that determine the personal behaviours and choices every person in the food value chain makes, starting with the farmers, going through the processors, and ending with the consumers. Lack of access to information and knowledge, excessive aversion to small risks, fear or aversion to novel foods (food neophobia), among others, hinder the behavioural changes.