17th Annual ECOWAS Group photo (indoors)
Photo Credit: Amara Ogwuma/Helen Keller Intl.

USAID Advancing Nutrition Nigeria is committed to improving nutrition outcomes by providing technical assistance and strengthening multi-sectoral coordination for all nutrition interventions funded by USAID and partners. As part of these efforts, the project played an instrumental role in organizing and executing the 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum, which took place from April 19-21, 2023 at the Abuja Continental Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria.

The forum's theme was "Leveraging Sustainable Financing for Multisectoral Approaches: Accelerate Universal Access to Nutritious, Safe, Affordable & Sustainable Diets," and it provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss the current state of nutrition in West Africa and strategies to address the issues surrounding nutrition in the sub-region. As a member of the Local Organizing Committee, USAID Advancing Nutrition established a branded exhibition booth, and collaborated with other USAID-funded projects to display information, education, and communication materials.

The forum consisted of various sessions, including discussions on multi-sectoral approaches for implementing nutrition programs, financing sustainable access to nutritious, safe, and affordable diets, and the role of governments and partners. The opening day's proceedings focused on the policies and actions needed to promote safe and healthy diets in West Africa. Other sessions during the day addressed multi-sectoral collaboration to improve food environments, social protection, and sustainable nutrition strategy programming.

The second day of the forum featured the opening ceremony including speeches and addresses from various officials and stakeholders. The rest of the day was spent discussing nutrition financing, opportunities through Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and strategies, opportunities, and challenges for leveraging sustainable financing for nutrition to achieve the Tokyo commitments.

USAID facilitated a session during the conference focusing on Financing Sustainable Access to Nutritious, Safe and Affordable Diets: The Role of Private Sectors. The session shared best practices and experiences on private sector engagement in access and availability of safe and nutritious food, and ways to strengthen that engagement. USAID experts and local practitioners shared their knowledge and experiences with participants and discussed challenges and opportunities for the private sector to improve the availability, scalability, and access to nutritious food.

The forum concluded with the development of actionable recommendations to address the myriad of predisposing factors and issues surrounding nutrition in the Sub-region and the theme for the next forum. Overall, the forum highlighted the need for sustained investment in nutrition and multisectoral collaboration to achieve universal access to nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets in the region. The contributions of USAID were particularly valuable, and the participants appreciated the agency's efforts to nutrition globally.