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UN Nutrition & partners tackle Liberia’s food insecurity

UN Nutrition, in collaboration with the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, and the Ministry of Health here has undertaken a Nutrition Stakeholder and Action Mapping exercise to identify nutrition stakeholders’ activities and areas of implementation in all fifteen counties of Liberia.

Persistent food insecurity in Liberia has been affecting the country’s nutrition status, necessitating urgent, effective, and concerted efforts to implement core nutrition actions.

According to a press release dated 14th December, the mapping will inform various multi-sectoral nutrition actors, including line ministries, development partners, civil society, the private sector, and communities in the sectors such as health, food and agriculture, education, social protection for the coordinated implementation of the actions to combat the country’s food insecurity and malnutrition challenges.

The release reveals that from 28 November to 1 December 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), hosting the UN Nutrition Secretariat in Liberia, organized, facilitated and technically supported the process of data collection and the data collection training for 25 central and county nutrition supervisors, county health team data officer and nutrition technical advisors.

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“The data collection used the web-based Scaling-Up Nutrition Planning and Monitoring Tool (SUN PMT) to calculate the geographic and population coverage of nutrition actions.”

The release notes that 2023 ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI)’ report released in July revealed that prevalence of undernourishment among Liberia’s population remains alarmingly high at 38.4% (2020-2022). This figure signifies that approximately two million individuals in the country suffer from undernourishment, which illustrates a considerable gap in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 that aims to eradicate hunger by 2030.

The recent Rapid Food Security Livelihoods Nutrition and Market Assessment (RFSLNMA, 2022) analysis report also shows that nutrition status in Liberia is at the “Alert/Stress” level, making the country vulnerable to further shocks.

Liberia has made significant strides in alleviating childhood malnutrition, placing a paramount focus on reducing stunting rates in the country to 22 percent, a goal underscored in the Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation (2012-2017) and the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) (2018-2023). Presently, the incidence of stunting among children under five stands at 26.6 percent, marking a substantial improvement from the 45 percent reported in 2000 and the 42 percent in 2010, as per UNICEF statistics.

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Concerted efforts to implement nutrition actions in Liberia

The UN Nutrition – a partnership among FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – is devoted to improving multi-sectoral nutrition governance, aiming to overcome fragmentation, increase harmonization on nutrition and provide coordinated and aligned support to governments for greater impact for the improvement of nutrition.

 At the country level in Liberia, UN Nutrition, financially supported by Irish Aid, acts as the UN Network for the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement Liberia SUN, actively supporting the SUN processes. 

In November 2022, in collaboration with the government, UN Nutrition concluded a nationwide Nutrition Stakeholders Mapping to identify nutrition actions and stakeholders involved in funding and the implementation of nutrition actions. Through the process, the government validated the result of the mapping exercise.

Among recommendations made included implementation of a second round of a mapping exercise to further inform the nutrition strategic plan.  

The second mapping exercise and training built the capacity of the sector staff in the country to collect, analyze and interpret relevant nutrition data, while identifying key nutrition stakeholders across the country.

Participants validated the Nutrition Stakeholders Action Mapping data generated through the exercise, which will be the basis for the implementation of the nutrition strategic plan.

Besides the launch of the costed strategic plan for nutrition 

UN Nutrition has also supported the development, validation and launch of the Liberia Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Costed Strategic Plan (LMNCSP 2023). The LMNCSP 2023, launched on 7 of December 2023, acknowledges the central role of the food systems “to provide nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets for children, adolescents and women, while ensuring adequate nutrition services and positive nutrition practices across the life cycle.” 

The virtual launch brought together 48 high-level delegates from organizations and institutions, including the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Nutrition convener, United Nations Resident Coordinator,  SUN Globa Movement, representative of the Anglophone Africa, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, Regional Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, West African Health Organization (WAHO), European Union,  World Bank and other line ministries, development partners, civil society, and the private sector.

The launch of the LMNCSP 2023 was also an opportunity to mobilize financial and technical support from both domestic and external sources to ensure the effective and efficient execution of the plan.

FAO persists in close collaboration with the government, development partners, and stakeholders to defeat hunger and achieve global food and nutrition security while preserving natural resources and reducing the environmental impact. FAO in Liberia continues to provide technical support to the government through UN Nutrition partnerships and other projects and programs for the development of sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. Press Release

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