Statement By Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali at “From Kathmandu to Tokyo and Beyond-Committing to a Healthier, Better Nourished Future”

Points for Intervention for Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali
at Panel Discussion under Plenary 1: From Kathmandu to Tokyo and Beyond – Committing to a Healthier, Better Nourished Future at Scaling Up Nutrition Global Gathering (SUNGG) 2019
(9:00 hrs, 5 November 2019, Hotel Yak & Yeti, Kathmandu)

Honorable Vice President, Honorable Ministers and high level dignitaries from the SUN Member Countries,
Her Excellency Ms. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF and Chair of the SUN Lead Group,
Her Excellency Ms. Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and Coordinator of the SUN Movement,
Members of SUN Business Network, SUN Civil Society Network, SUN Donor Network and UN Network for SUN,
Distinguished delegates and distinguished members of the Panel,
Representatives from Civil Society, Development Partners, United Nations Agencies, Private Sector Partners, Academia, Media, Parliamentarians and Delegates from different countries,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Namaskar and a very Good Morning to you all!

First of all, let me welcome all distinguished delegates from SUN Movement Member Countries to Nepal and wish for your comfortable stay.

I would also like to thank the SUN Movement Secretariat for choosing Nepal as the venue of the global gathering this year.

And, I feel privileged to be at this important event today.

Today’s food for thought is that the food merely is not enough. It is the good nutritious food that makes people healthy, a pre-requisite for the development of a nation. Nutrition is the best investment for the future. Good nutrition provided during the first 1000 days determines the quality of life for the next 1000 months.

However, it is sad that millions of people around the world still lack enough food and many more eat poor quality diets. Malnutrition in all its forms continues one of the leading causes of poor health and poverty globally. We need to focus on developing sustainable food systems that have the potential to nourish human health as well as prevent environmental degradation. The theme “Nourishing People and Planet Together” is a fitting choice for this gathering.

Nepal and Scaling Up Nutrition Movement:

Nepal is one of the forerunners in the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

In 2010, within the framework of Multi-sectoral approach, Government of Nepal launched the Golden 1000 Days Initiative, a nationwide Public Awareness Campaign, in collaboration with different development partners.

For better nutritional outcomes among most disadvantaged children, in 2010, the Government of Nepal launched a nationwide targeted program of Universal Child Cash Grant to the Dalit children under five and children under five in five districts of Karnali, the remotest area in Nepal.

On 5 May 2011, Nepal became the fifth country to join the SUN Movement.  Ever since, Government of Nepal has taken various measures to scale up nutrition by developing coherent policy and legal framework; aligning programmes around a common results framework; developing a periodic financial tracking and results framework; and strengthening political commitments. The SUN Movement has proven to be a valuable platform to convene, mobilize, share, learn, advocate and drive a coordinated approach to ending malnutrition.

Nepal was also one of the countries that launched the ‘Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and Under-nutrition (REACH)’ initiative in 2011 aiming to strengthen nutrition policies and procedures in alignment with the multi-sectoral approach.

Challenges of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2

The Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to end hunger by 2030 and ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for everyone, all year round, thereby ending all forms of malnutrition.

In Nepal, we have challenges to reduce number of stunted, under-weight, wasted and under-nourishment and anemia among the children and women. Conversely, for a growing number of children, obesity has become an emerging challenge – contributing to the double burden of malnutrition.

The proposed targets for Nepal for SDG 2 include a reduction in the prevalence of undernourished to 3 percent and the reduction in the prevalence of underweight children – under five years of age –to 9 percent by 2030.

The other targets aim to reduce the prevalence of anemia among women and children and increase per capita food grain production.

Enabling institutions, strengthening partnership, creating conducive environment and encouraging more investments are essential to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Government of Nepal is making every effort to scale up nutrition and deliver for their people a place free of malnutrition by 2030.

The Multi-sector Nutrition Plan

The Government of Nepal is fully committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goals and the World Health Assembly targets related to nutrition. While our efforts to tackle malnutrition began much earlier, it gained considerable momentum after joining the SUN Movement in 2011.

In 2011, the Nutrition Assessment and Gap Analysis was carried out and endorsed by the Government which led to the development of the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan in Nepal. While the first plan covered the period from 2013 to 2017 and integrated different sectors from agriculture and water and sanitation to education and governance, the second Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan – for the period of 2018 to 2022 – builds on the firstplan and is being implemented throughout the country. The second plan places emphasis on achieving nutrition-related Sustainable Development Goals for Nepal. The second plan:

  • focuses on gender empowerment and equitable emphasis on populations disproportionately affected by malnutrition;
  • takes a life cycle approach, starting with the first Golden 1000 days;
  • aims to forge a strong relationship with the 753 local governments and provides a special directive on operationalization of MSNP in the context of federalism;
  • gives a stronger emphasis on monitoring and accountability for implementation; and
  • establishes a strong link with Universal Child Cash Grant for better nutritional outcomes.

The estimated budget of implementing MSNP II is nearly USD 500 million, out of which, the government will be contributing 60 percent and development partners are contributing 40 percent to implement the Plan.

The Constitution of Nepal enshrines the right relating to food and health. For this, we have been focusing on reducing the poverty and inequalities among the women and marginalized ethnic and caste groups; prioritizing actions for the poorest and most vulnerable people to ensure that no one is left behind and to follow the principle of universality without any discrimination.

Way forward and commitments

The Government of Nepal aims to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and World Health Assembly targets along with the targets set by 15th periodic plan of Nepal through a number of key commitments:

Commitment 1: Increasing investment to eliminate all forms of malnutrition and ending hunger::

The government of Nepal remains committed to expanding nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programmes nationwide by 2020 under the framework of the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan, benefiting more than three million children under the age of five through nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions; providing iron-folic supplementation to all 3.5 million adolescent girls and 1.9 million pregnant and nursing women. The total budget for the Plan is nearly USD500 million, but there is an urgent funding gap of approximately USD200 million. We urge our partners to help us fill this critical gap.

Commitment 2: High-level political commitment to tackle impacts of the climate and environment related crisis:

Nepal is prone to natural disasters such as earthquake, floods, landslides and avalanche. We are one of the climate vulnerable countries. To tackle the food and nutritional challenges that are consequently affected, Nepal will formulate and implement a robust policy and strategy by 2020 in a coherent and integrated fashion that strengthens humanitarian development drive.  This includes a social protection and sustainable agriculture system for sustainable nutrition impact.  The Government of Nepal is committed to developing a strong policy framework connecting Disaster Risk Reduction with regular ongoing nutrition programs at federal, provincial and local government levels to mitigate adverse effects of the different types of natural disasters, shocks on nutritional outcomes.

Commitment 3: More nutrition-sensitive and nutrition specific research and development: Considering the climate and environment related crisis, the Government of Nepal will prioritize agricultural and other research and development with stronger focus on nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and legumes, treatment of severe and moderate acute malnutrition, control of micro-nutrient deficiencies, and Infant and Young Child Feeding and Care in a life cycle approach. Appropriate policy measures will be initiated by 2022 to significantly promote production of nutrient-dense and locally grown traditional foods. The implementation of the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act will be further promoted. 

In addition, the Government of Nepal will review existing policies and ensure key policy measures are in place to tackle the impact of the climate related crisis and improve the resilience of rural production systems and value chains – while managing a sustainable increase in its goods and services. We will also ensure the environmental sustainability while promoting the technology transfer in agriculture.

Commitment 4: Investing resources to strengthen advocacy and awareness around all forms of malnutrition including under-nutrition, obesity and micronutrients deficiencies.

By 2020 the Government of Nepal will endeavor to develop policy measures to address adverse effects of processed and packed foods on nutrition, especially on infant feeding, micronutrients deficiencies and overweight/obesity.

To conclude, let me emphasize that this Global Gathering has provided an opportunity to reinforce the government’s commitment to eliminate all form of malnutrition including emerging nutrition challenges due to climate related crisis, changed lifestyle and processed foods as well as to achieve the World Health Assembly Targets 2025 on nutrition and Sustainable Development Goals 2030. This has also been a platform to promote new investment in this critical area and to provide clear strategic direction for the future.

I believe this is an excellent opportunity to share our stories – our achievements in nutrition and the challenges we collectively face. This is also a forum to renew our commitment and pave the way for the next phase of the Movement both at the country level, and 2020 Global Nutrition Summit, Tokyo.

I thank you for your attention.