BENIN – The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss foundation launched by the United Nations has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Benin’s Ministry of Agriculture allowing the implementation of a three-year project that marks its entry into the country.
Since its inception at the UN in 2002, GAIN has been working to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. Working with partners, GAIN aims to make healthier food choices more affordable, more available, and more desirable.
By the same token, GAIN is thus inaugurating its official presence in the country by opening a new office in Cotonou, Benin.
Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this new three-year program (2023-2026) offers a real opportunity to continue improving the diet of Benin’s population.
Despite all the efforts made over the past 20 years, the country is still lagging in terms of stunting (32%) and wasting, which has only fallen by 3% during this period (6%).
With a ranking of 166th out of 191 countries in the Human Development Index 2021, Benin’s development potential is still too unexploited to date.
Gaston Cossi Dossouhoui, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries commending the project stated that the country has made remarkable progress in agriculture but the malnutrition dilemma persists.
He, therefore, applauds the move by GAIN adding that the country is in dire need of new production technologies.
“Let’s keep up the momentum so that no one is left behind! This is part of the mandate that GAIN has been given for the next three years with their various programs,” Dossouhoui emphasized.
Speaking during the launch, Saul Morris, Director of Programmes at GAIN revealed that GAIN’s presence in Benin aims to transform food systems so that they provide more nutritious food for all citizens, particularly the most vulnerable.
He added that the project is timely reflecting on other successful stories in other African countries.
“In Africa, we have already been involved in many transformations of food systems and are confident that our objectives in Benin will be achieved.
Our alliance with key development partners such as the government, the civil society, and local businesses is vital to building stronger, healthier food systems for a more equal society.”
Francoise Sayi, GAIN Country Director provided a snapshot of GAIN’s work in Benin. He highlighted that they began by focusing on increasing the impact of existing programs.
Elaborating, he said that this strategy includes creating demand for nutritious food, supporting the provision of fortified food – which includes the country’s school canteens program –
and strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises in food supply chains through the work of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) business network.
The opening of the Benin office brings to 8 the number of national offices for the foundation on the African continent and 12 around the world.