Remarks With Tanzanian Prime Minster Mizengo Pinda and Irish Deputy Prime Minister Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore at the High-Level Meeting on Nutrition and 1,000 Days Initiative

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
June 12, 2011

PRIME MINISTER PINDA: Your Excellency Madam Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, United States of America; Honorable Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland; honorable ministers; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, I feel greatly honored to welcome you all to Tanzania and specifically to this roundtable meeting. And at the outset, let me express my heart-felt appreciation and that of my government and the people of the United Public of Tanzania to Her Excellency Hillary Rodham Clinton and Honorable Eamon Gilmore for visiting us.

This visit and meeting that have been organized are critical to Tanzania as they get – worth saving lives of innocent Tanzanians, children and women in particular. It is in this regard that the Government of the United Public of Tanzania fully endorses and supports this Scaling-Up Nutrition initiative, abbreviated as the SUN. The Scaling-Up Nutrition initiative has a direct correlation and augments the efforts toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly MDGs number four, number five, and number six. The Government of the United Public of Tanzania is therefore committed to the successful implementation of the SUN initiative. Let me reiterate that the government will work day and night with all partners involved to attain the noble objectives and goals and triumph in the SUN. The Government of the United Public of Tanzania, therefore, wishes to announce and commit itself to the following key issues on Scaling-Up Nutrition in Tanzania among others.

First is commitment to finalize implementation arrangements for the national nutrition strategy, which will include clear responsibilities for the ministries, development partners, private sector, and civil society; second, announcing establishment of a high-level national steering committee for nutrition that includes a senior representative from the government, development partners, the private sector, and the civil society; third, announcing the intention to establish (inaudible) line for nutrition commencing fiscal year 2012, 2013; fourth, commitment to integrate nutrition into other types of activities, as outlined in the Tanzanian (inaudible) culture and food security investment plan; fifth to speed up the establishment and deployment of nutrition focal points at district levels; and sixth, getting, finalizing, and enforcing the national food fortification standards for oil, wheat, and maize flour. This is approved in 2010 so that millers can begin fortifying.

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, I’m optimistic that with the Scaling-Up Nutrition initiative, Tanzania will reduce drastically the number of undernourished Tanzanians and hence avoiding unnecessary death. Together we can. Let everyone (inaudible) play his role or her role, and we go (inaudible). I thank you all for your attention. Thank you. (Applause.)

Okay. I’ve done my little part. I’ve played my little part. It’s now – (laughter) – let me take this opportunity to welcome Madam Rodham to say a few words as well.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I’m delighted to be with you today, and I’m greatly encouraged and appreciative of the six steps that you have just announced, which are very welcome indeed. Thank you for your leadership. And I am delighted to be here with my colleague, the Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, and as well, distinguished representatives of the Tanzanian Government, including my colleague, the minister of foreign affairs, the ministers of agriculture, the ministers of health, as well as other government officials, civil society representatives, and development partners who have come to support the initiative that the United Republic of Tanzania is committed to taking on behalf of the nutritional status of the people of this country, particularly the young children.

And as they say in Southern Africa, all protocols observed – (laughter) – and we know that improving nutrition requires work on many different fronts. Everyone needs to get enough calories and micronutrients to be healthy. We need clean water and sanitation, simple health services and information about good eating practices, especially for pregnant women and children. There are basic low-cost interventions, but as the prime minister just pointed out with the announcement, not only of government action, but of the establishment of a high-level steering committee, this requires coordinated activities by many different public, nonprofit, and private entities.

For too long, there have been barriers between what the government tried to do, what the NGOs were attempting to help do, and what the private sector was doing. And there were even some continuing scientific questions about what were the most effective, particularly cost-effective steps to take. But I think that is all changing. We’ve learned a lot in the last years as we have had the Millennium Development Goals as a reminder of what we needed to do to make progress together. And the United States, along with other partners, has begun to think differently about our work in nutrition. The Obama Administration has made it a central component of our policies and programs across a range of related issues. And we are creating programs that support country-led strategies, such as the one that the prime minister just outlined with the six integrated steps.

And we are acting on scientific information. In particular, we are focusing on the 1,000-day window of opportunity between pregnancy and two years of age. Why is that? Because we now know conclusively from brain research that is the time when a child’s cognitive, intellectual, and physical development is at most risk. We know that academic ability in school is now directly related to how well-nourished a child was before and after birth. We even know that a child’s earning potential as an adult is still connected to how well-nourished that little baby was. A healthy 1,000 days changes the course of a child’s life, and I would argue it also significantly benefits communities and even countries, because healthy children who get off to a good start will be more productive members of the workforce.

So good nutrition in those first thousand says lays the foundation for health, development, and even prosperity for the next generation. This scientific insight motivated me and our Irish friends and other leaders to launch the 1,000 Days partnership last September as part of the movement to Scale-Up Nutrition, the so-called SUN program that the prime minister referred to. And we wanted to challenge countries to achieve benchmarks to make measurable progress in the thousand days between September 2010 and June 2013.

So today, Prime Minister Pinda has announced significant steps that can and will lead to real progress. By creating a high-level nutrition steering committee led by the prime minister and including development partners and the civil society of Tanzania, such as UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Food Program, Tanzania can accelerate momentum toward the goals set forth in your national strategy to reduce poverty. I know this has been a busy time because, like us, you have just completed your 2011, 2012 budget. These are tough budgetary times for everyone, including the United States and Ireland. And I’m very pleased to hear, therefore, Prime Minister, that the government is committed to funding a special budget line for nutrition starting next year.

We obviously think that’s a good investment because it will actually help save money down the road. We stand ready to support nutrition programs that provide high returns. I am pleased to announce that to do so the United States is increasing nutrition funding in Tanzania this year by four times to nearly $6.7 million. Among – (applause) – among other efforts, this funding will support a public campaign to make sure that every parent, grandparent, older sibling, and child knows about what goes into good nutrition, from eating a balanced diet to washing their hands and all of the other habits that we parents try to instill in our children.

We’re also devoting agricultural resources to programs with a greater impact on improving nutrition. For example, later we will be highlighting a U.S. Government program called Feed the Future. Through it, we are providing support to small-and medium-sized food companies to develop and market nutritious products. And we know that Tanzania, based on what the prime minister has just said, can give the food companies an incentive by finalizing the national fortification standards, which will create a strong market signal in support of these efforts. Our children in the United States eat a lot of fortified foods, Prime Minister, fortified milk and fortified cereals. Because no matter how good the soil of your country is, it doesn't contain all the nutrients. And processing food very often strips away nutrients, which is why we fortify what we feed our children.

Beyond these steps, we also look for ways to better integrate and leverage nutrition investments within our maternal and child health programs, our water and sanitation programs, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Let me close by saying that, with this moment, and with the very excellent presentation by the prime minister, we can chart a better course toward better health for millions of people. And I think it's fair to say that Ireland and the United States are represented here because we are impressed by the progress that the United Republic of Tanzania is making. We see a government and a people that is focused on doing better, year after year, for yourselves. And I hope that Tanzania will become a model for other nations seeking to reduce hunger and under-nutrition, to create economic growth, and improve the lives of people. (Applause.)

So, this is, for me, a great moment, a good excuse to come back to a country that I so enjoyed when I was here during the 1990s. And we will be having a session at the September’s United Nations General Assembly on the first year of progress. I hope Tanzania will consider participating, and I look forward to working closely with the government, Prime Minister, as you implement this very important agenda. Thank you, sir. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER PINDA: Okay. Thank you so much, Madam. It is now time for my friend from Ireland. (Inaudible) had very good discussions with him, when you came. And so, (inaudible) for me to give (inaudible) praise (inaudible) sitting together for the same cause, so you are welcome, sir.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GILMORE: Thank you, Prime Minister Pinda, for your very warm welcome. And thanks, also, to my colleague, Foreign Minister Membe, for your opening remarks, and thank you to Secretary Clinton for your inspiring words.

I am delighted to be able to join you here today for this important event. Ireland and the United States have a long-shared history. The Irish historical experience of hunger and poverty resulted in many Irish people immigrating to America, impacting on the development of both our nations.

Hunger has a deep resonance with the Irish people, given our common experience, and it has shaped the values and principles that are embedded in our development programs. Ireland and Tanzania also share a history with over 35 years experience of partnership and development cooperation, and many more decades of connection through our missionaries. In the past few days, I have seen for myself some of the practical results of this cooperation on the ground, especially in health and agriculture. And I must say that I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Our work with our Tanzanian partners is shaping the future. It is a good story.

Today, we are here to talk about nutrition and what we can do together to improve nutrition in Tanzania and beyond. Building on and learning from our shared experience, Ireland and the U.S. are working in partnership to lead efforts to combat under-nutrition around the world. The Secretary has already outlined the SUN or -Up Nutrition movement. As she mentioned in New York last September, we committed to 1,000 days of action to scale up nutrition. We committed to lead by influence and example. We are 264 days into that work. We pledged to support local communities, national governments, and the international community to reduce maternal and child under-nutrition.

It is essential that the SUN movement is now translated into action at country level, action that will transform the lives of millions, and enable them to unleash their full human potential. We all have a role to play: donors, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector. However, the main drivers and investors in the SUN movement are countries themselves, under the leaderships of their national governments.

Mr. Prime Minister, improving nutrition for today's mothers and infants and young children will support the growth and development of the next generation of Tanzanians, who will drive the nation's progress. This idea is central to the SUN movement and the 1,000 Days partnership. And translating this idea into action can only be achieved with effective leadership at country level. Today's meeting and your wish to have Tanzania join the SUN movement as a SUN early-riser country are clear and powerful symbols of your commitment to Scaling-Up Nutrition in Tanzania. The strength and seniority of the government delegation present today demonstrates a clear recognition by Tanzania of the need for a multi-sectorial approach to addressing under-nutrition. The finalization of the national nutrition strategy, the establishment of a national steering committee for nutrition, and the other four measures you have announced today will ensure necessary coherence and coordination to deliver a joint effort approach to nutrition.

In line with our pledge in New York last September, Ireland is committed to supporting countries that are working to scale up nutrition, nationally. Tanzania has made admirable progress towards achieving its vision of producing enough food to feed its people. Ireland will continue to support this vision of self-sufficiency and efforts to take this policy to the next level by ensuring as balanced and nutritious diets as possible for Tanzania's people. Nutrition will be a central thread in the new country strategy that will guide Ireland's partnership with Tanzania for the next five years. In addition to our support to the health and agriculture sectors, we will devote over 2 million U.S dollars to nutrition in Tanzania this year. (Applause.)

Let me conclude, Mr. Prime Minister, by quoting an often heard adage that what gets measured gets done. In New York last September, the leaders gathered there agreed that a review would take place after one year to look at progress under the SUN movement and the 1,000 Days partnership. This event will be a chance for countries to share the successes and challenges of Scaling-Up Nutrition, learn lessons from each other's experience, and to demonstrate the high-level support which will ensure this movement is successful.

I would encourage Tanzania to work with members of the SUN task teams, who are preparing a progress report for this meeting. I believe that when we come to assess progress, Tanzania will have a very good story, indeed, to tell. Thank you very much, indeed. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/T48-17