The European Commission has given the green light to an ambitious research project called SUNRAY: the acronym for 'Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come'. The project will be implemented by a consortium of four African and five European institutions coordinated by the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp. Over a period of two years, about a million Euros will be invested to rethink the research agenda for nutrition in Africa.
This is an opportune moment for investing in nutrition research. Malnutrition rates remain high, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where only nine out of 46 countries are on track to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal target (a 50% reduction in underweight among children less than five years old). Undernutrition is only part of the problem; obesity and other diet related chronic diseases are increasing as lifestyles change so there is a double burden of malnutrition.
Despite the huge cost of malnutrition in terms of early death, reduced quality of life and lower gross national product investment in nutrition has been inadequate. In addition, new nutritional challenges are emerging, due to changes in climate, demography and international markets. The SUNRAY-project intends to identify new and innovative ways to address the problem of malnutrition. The research agenda and priorities will be defined primarily by African researchers. Other institutions and individuals with an interest in nutrition and related fields in Africa will also be consulted. African partners will take ownership of the research agenda to ensure that it is sustainable. The research will be integrated with initiatives in other sectors such as agriculture, health, education, social protection and rural development, to address the root causes of malnutrition and to avoid 'technical fixes' . The project will link research with policy and action, and involve a broad range of stakeholders, including politicians, government sta
|Contact: Patrick Kolsteren|
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp