Preventing Child Wasting in Africa’s Dryland: An Exploratory Review of the Enabling Environment in 8 Sub-Saharan Countries Using a Food Systems Lens

Persistent child wasting is evident across the Sahel and Horn of Africa, much of which is typically dryland and dependent on agropastoralism. Two events in 2021, the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit and the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, represented a watershed moment for the alignment of food systems and nutrition. Against this backdrop, the costed country operational roadmaps, developed in 22 countries as part of the joint UN Global Action Plan on Child Wasting (UNICEF 2021), recognized the importance of preventing child wasting using a multisectoral approach. It used a food systems lens to assess how current governance mechanisms, policies, and programming priorities in 8 sub-Saharan countries are responsive to the food security and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable people. For governance mechanisms, it draws from a narrative review of joint annual assessments conducted by the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement’s national multistakeholder platforms since 2016. For policy frameworks, it analyzes recommendations included in operational roadmaps and findings from the review of national multisectoral nutrition plans. For programming priorities, it analyzes the typologies of costed interventions in the food and social protection systems. It presents how nutrition and healthy diets were factored into national food systems pathways and how Government commitments to Nutrition for Growth integrate food systems and resilience. Results of this exploratory review suggest opportunities offered by the implementation of the country roadmaps should rely on a fundamental understanding of context-specific risks and vulnerabilities embedded in the systems and their dynamics.