11 November 2019

When Children Are Hungry ‘There Is No Stomach for Learning’, Deputy Secretary-General Says, at School Visit in Kenya

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the “Food for Education” school visit, in Nairobi today:

I am here because all of you have worked together to find a solution for people and for planet.

Wawira, Tap2Eat and its partners are an example of putting people first — in this case young people — including the children at this school.  We know that when children are hungry there is no stomach for learning.

Stunting and wasting affects more than 200 million children in this world, making it nearly impossible for a child to survive and focus on learning in school — let alone thrive.  Reversing this trend has not been easy.  We need the tried and true ways of working, and we need the disruptors like Wawira Njiru who push us outside the box.

Tap2Eat‑Food for Education has leveraged incredible knowledge across many sectors, exactly in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals and the associated plan of action of the International Conference on People and Development.

As these young students are learning — cooperation is key.  Our lives are interlinked, and our solutions must be too.  This social enterprise collaboration is exactly in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Together you are tackling a multitude of the global goals:

Sustainable Development Goal 1:  No poverty.

Sustainable Development Goal 2:  Zero hunger.

Sustainable Development Goal 3:  Good health.

Sustainable Development Goal 4:  Quality education.

As well as the Goals on innovation, growth, protecting the planet and partnerships.  By my count altogether at least 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  So why does this matter?

You are at the right place, at the right time, for the right people, with the right approach.  We have a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, and that means we need to scale up — to increase access and opportunities for more people especially children.

Tap2Eat‑Food for Education is using technology to reach exponentially more children, now about 10,000 a day in Kenya.  By tapping one of these orange bands, you are reaffirming a virtuous farm‑to‑school‑desk circle that includes work for nearby farmers, engaging cooks and ensuring children have the food and nutrients they need to focus on learning and have energy to play.  And remember, who you feed today will lift someone out of poverty tomorrow and also help transform our world.  Stunted growth costs Africa $25 billion a year, a figure we can ill afford.

I can see the students have been very patient and I want to answer their questions.  So, let me end by saying we need more young African social entrepreneurs as you know what communities need and how to reach them.  And equally we need more amazing partners like United Nations entities, Global Citizen, Ideo, the Government of Kenya and Cisco — to name just a few — to invest in their ideas.

We won’t reach the global goals without all of you as part of our shared [United Nations] Decade of Action [on Nutrition].

For information media. Not an official record.