13th May 2015




The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) Study is a project led by the African Union Commission (AUC) and supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The multi-country study aims to demonstrate the level of costs to the national economy caused by the effects of child undernutrition and the possible economic returns that can be gained if appropriate investments in nutrition are undertaken.

The study was originally initiated by WFP in Latin America and the Caribbean region and successfully implemented by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in 2004. Based on the successful experience in Latin America, WFP and ECA collaborated with the African Union Commission (AUC) to adapt the study for the African context.

The methodology was reviewed by a joint taskforce of experts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, including representatives from various divisions at ECA, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the African Center of Statistics, who made recommendations on the adaptation of the model to the African context. Additionally, the methodology for Africa was reviewed and approved by the African Taskforce on Food and Nutrition Development made up of the AU, UN agencies, NGOs and Regional Experts, that serves as a high-level resource on nutrition at continental level.

Following the presentation of the study in 2012, at the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning  and Economic Development, the Ministers issued a declaration on COHA (Resolution 898) confirming the importance of the study as well as recommending the scale up beyond the pilot (first) phase.

Twelve countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Mauritania, Rwanda, Swaziland and Uganda) were originally selected to implement the study in three phases. The countries were selected based on a set of criteria – data availability, sub-regional coverage, socio-economic representation and existence of a national platform on malnutrition and hunger. Accordingly the study was initiated, in 2012, in the first-phase (pilot) countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Uganda), followed by in the second phase countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda), in 2013, where the study is currently nearing completion.  

The recent Malabo declaration, passed in June 2014, by the AU Heads of State and Government, on Nutrition Security for Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa, further acknowledged the contribution of the COHA study in highlighting the consequences of child undernutrition. The declaration further called upon member States, to participate in the study.

Consequently additional countries have continued to express interest in implementing the study.

The results of the study in four first-phase countries revealed that economies suffered an estimated loss of between 1.9 percent and 16.5 percent of the countries’ GDP per annum associated with undernutrition. Results also indicated that child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced countries’ workforce by up to 8 percent; and stunted children achieve up to 1.2 fewer years in education, which affects their chances of getting a good job in later life.

This has continued to stimulate national governments to adopt concrete policy actions and affirm their political commitment through dedicated and increased investment to nutrition interventions, including to the overall strengthening of responses within the social development sector.

Within this context, Malawi undertook to conduct the Cost of Hunger in Africa study presenting an opportunity to better understand the role that child nutrition can play as a catalyst for the achievement of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II). This has confirmed the magnitude of the consequences that child undernutrition can have on health, education and productivity. Most importantly, it has underlined the impact on the national economy and the need for a multi-sectoral policy approach to address the child under nutrition.

The government of the Republic of Malawi is organising an event to launch the results of this study to leverage policy actions across various sectors towards reduction of stunting to realise the country’s national development agenda and vision 2020.

I.             OBJECTIVES:

a.     To launch  results of the Cost of Hunger in Malawi study, which estimated the social and economic consequences of child undernutrition and the Implications on Malawi’s National Development and Vision 2020;

b.     To leverage support of key  government ministries, development partners including UN agencies and donors, academics, research institutes, the private sector as well as the public and foster dialogue on current gaps in addressing child undernutrition, best practices for scale-up of proven interventions, areas for collaboration between sectors and with partners;

c.     To discuss how government actions on eliminating stunting can be harmonised and linked with broader nutrition initiatives, such as SUN and REACH; 



a.     Disseminate the results of the Cost of Hunger in Malawi study and raise awareness on the dire social and economic consequences of child undernutrition;

b.     Influence policy to prioritise nutrition in the national development agenda.



9:00 – 9:30                   Arrival and registration of invited guests and media

9:30                             Arrival of Guest of Honour, Honourable Minister of Finance,                                     Economic Planning and Development, Dr Goodall Gondwe

9:45 – 9:50                   Opening Remarks by Master of Ceremonies and Facilitator,                                     Dr Alexander Kalimbira

9:50 – 9:55                   Welcoming Remarks by the World Food Programme,                                              Regional Director or Country Director

9:55 – 10:05                 Remarks by the African Union Commission and Economic                                       Commission on the COHA report


10:05 – 10:25               Presentation of COHA results and recommendations by the                                     Head of the NIT, Ms Victoria Geresomo

10:25 – 10:45               Group Photo & Tea Break


10:45 – 11:10               Panel discussion with Principal Secretary of the Ministry of                                 Education, Science and Technology; Principal Secretary of                                 the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water                                                      Development; and Government  Chiefof Health Service of the                                   Ministry of Health.

Panel discussion to be moderated by the Master of Ceremonies and    Facilitator, Dr Kalimbira.


11:10 – 11:20               Official Launch Remarks by Guest of Honour, Honourable                                      Minister of  Finance, EconomicPlanning and Development,                                       Dr Goodall Gondwe

11:20 – 11:25               Closing of the event by Master of Ceremonies and                                              Facilitator, Dr Alexander Kalimbira

11:30 – 11:50               Press Interview with Guest of Honour, Honourable Minister                                   of  Finance, Economic Planning and Development Dr Goodall                                    Gondwe

12:00 – 13:00               Lunch for invited guests


IV.          DOCUMENTS


 1. Report of the Cost of Hunger in Malawi (full and summary)

 2. Annotated Agenda

 3. Press Release