The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) launched its global program, Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), in Ethiopia yesterday at a ceremony held at skylight hotel.

The SBN is one of four global networks within GAIN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement; a movement that supports 61 countries, including Ethiopia. These programs are implemented and administered in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP).

At the ceremony, Engidu Legesse, the chairman of SBN Ethiopia and the owner of GATS Agro-Industry, affirmed the country’s need to intensively work on nutrition, despite the promising progress that has been made over the past decade. GAIN reports that between 2000 and 2016, the country was able to reduce stunting from 58 percent to 38.4 percent and the prevalence of being underweight from 41 percent to 23.6 percent.

However, as the panelists, composed of Engidu, Ton Haverkort (Ethiopia Country Director for GAIN), Abenezer Feleke, Project Manager and Marketing Specialist at SBN, Abinet Tekle, National Coordinator for SBN, all affirmed that there is still work to be done, especially in terms of vamping up the involvement of the private sector.

As such, the core mission of SBN Ethiopia includes convening and organising businesses around national nutrition priorities, assessing the challenges businesses face, facilitating partnerships at the national and global level, and incentivising businesses to act on nutrition issues.

Besides focusing on concrete policies and enhancing structured approaches, the panel also affirmed the need to raise awareness at a socio-cultural level. Speaking to LinkUp Business, the panel affirmed that the issue in the country regarding nutrition is not a lack of resources or finances, but perception. Abenezer gave the example of an instance they had while working in rural areas where they encountered a mother who sold a litre of milk for ETB 12 to buy her child a low-nutrition, half litre of juice for the same price.

This is not something unique to that encounter and is something that is observed across all classes and social strata of the country. Accordingly, there is much to be done in that regard and is one of the avenues, perhaps the most important, for the realisation of SBN Ethiopia’s mission.

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