Kenyan government and development partners have earmarked $40 million (Sh5.3 billion) to combat malnutrition among seven million Kenyans over the next four years.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN Kenya), the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme (WFP) aim to enhance access to healthier diets for all Kenyans by 2027.

During the launch of GAIN’s 2023-2027 strategic plan, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi highlighted the nation’s struggle with high rates of malnutrition, particularly among children.

MrLinturi expressed concerns over the triple burden of malnutrition in the country, encompassing under-nutrition, hidden hunger, and over-nutrition, which hinder efforts to achieve desired progress.

“Childhood under-nutrition alone is costing the country over Ksh373.9 billion, equivalent to 6.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product,” Linturi stated.

The launch of the GAIN Kenya Business Plan (2023-2027) and the Kenya Food Systems Dashboard highlights a major milestone in the government’s efforts to ensure healthier diets for all citizens.

“By adhering to key nutrition policies and fostering collaboration between the government and stakeholders, we can pave the way for a future where every Kenyan has access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food,” Mr Linturi said.

Ruth Okowa, GAIN Kenya Country Director, emphasised their collaboration with the Kenyan Government to reach over seven million citizens with healthier diets and address the nation’s triple burden of malnutrition.

“We aim to invest $40 million to reduce malnutrition among seven million Kenyans in the next four years and allocate $8 million annually to enhance access to healthier diets through five strategic pillars,” said Ms Okowa.

She introduced the innovative Food Systems Dashboard (FSD), serving as a comprehensive platform for food systems data in Kenya, crucial for informed decision-making in food systems transformation.

“The dashboard will allow Kenyan users to access global food systems data, providing insights into Kenya’s food system in comparison to others,” she said.

Ms Okowa further elaborated on the GAIN Kenya Business Plan, which addresses challenges such as weak policy frameworks, high costs of nutritious foods, and limited funding.

The plan outlines five strategic areas to achieve healthier diets for all, including strengthening policy environments, creating demand for nutritious food, advancing food fortification, improving supply chains, and promoting social inclusion and gender equity to advance nutrition among vulnerable groups.

Hamisi Williams, Deputy Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), stressed the importance of translating discussions on fortification and bio-fortification into tangible actions.

He stressed the need for widespread awareness to ensure consumers are well-informed about the nutritional content of their food choices.

” It is crucial to prioritise healthy, nutritious options that enhance our well-being,” Mr Williams said.