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Parliamentarians from West and Central Africa gather to build support for improved nutrition

Each year in the West and Central Africa region, an estimated one million children under the age of 5 die from causes related to undernutrition (UNICEF). Among the 15 countries in the world with the worst under-5 mortality statistics, 11 are in the West and Central Africa region. Only three of 24 countries are on track to meet the World Health Assembly (WHA) target for stunting (40 percent reduction in the number of stunted children by 2030).

Parliaments play a critical role in addressing stunting — they can enact laws and regulations, influence national development plans, determine national budgets and allocations, monitor and oversee the implementation of government commitments, and use their platform as respected opinion leaders to educate constituents on healthy practices. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, UNICEF, and Alive & Thrive convened a seminar (June 27-29 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) with parliamentarians from countries in West and Central Africa to review the latest evidence on stunting and its impacts — and the policies and programmes that are proven to address stunting — and to build capacity with strategies, practical tools and actions that parliamentarians can use to urgently drive action in their countries.

At the conclusion of the meeting, delegates developed and signed the “Ouagadougou Declaration” — a set of priority actions that each participant will recommend to their national parliaments and constituents to advance progress towards meeting global maternal and child nutrition targets. This declaration is also available in French.