Child Hunger in Africa

8th International Policy Conference on the African Child (IPC)

23 - 24 May 2019

United Nations Conference Centre, Addis Ababa

Anne-Birgitte Albrecstein

Chief Executive Officer, Plan International

A renowned leader in development and gender equality, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen has worked for over 25 years in international development, human rights, change management and diplomacy. Ms. Albrectsen has been CEO of Plan International since September 2015. Prior to this she was United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Management at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 

Ms Albrectsen is also Chairman of the Board of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and a member of the United Nations Every Woman Every Child High Level Steering Group, the Generation Unlimited Global Board and the International Civil Society Centre Board.
Ms Albrectsen has previously held senior leadership positions in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNFPA and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She served with the UNDP from 1997 to 2004, in Indonesia and later as Director of the Administrator’s Office at UNDP Headquarters. She led country operations for UNFPA in Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan from 2004-2006. From 2007-2009, she led the Danish government’s humanitarian and civil society affairs work as the director of the relevant division in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ms Albrectsen is Danish and holds a law degree from the University of Copenhagen.

Mr Andrew Allieu

Chief Technical Adviser, Social Protection Project, ILO

Andrew Allieu is a Social Protection and Labour Migration Expert at the ILO Regional Office for Africa. He is Project Manager/Chief Technical Advisor for the ILO/EU/ICMPD project: “Extending social protection access and portability of benefits to migrant workers and their families in Africa’’ – the social protection component of the Joint Labour Migration Programme for Africa. Previously, he was Implementation Officer for the ILO QUATRAIN Africa (Social Protection Quantitative Training for Africa) and part of the teaching team at the ILO/University of Mauritius M.Sc. Social Protection Financing Programme. 

Andrew’s professional experience also includes: as Social Affairs Officer, UNECA; a stint at UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia as Regional Social Protection Advisor; and Head of the Actuarial Department, National Social Security Fund of Sierra Leone. His academic background is in Actuarial Science and Economics.

Dr Kaleab Baye

Associate Professor, Director of the Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University

Dr Kaleab Baye is an Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Food Science and Nutrition at Addis Ababa University
Dr Baye earns a PhD in Nutrition and Health from the University of Montpellier, France, a Masters in Food Science and Nutrition, and Bachelors in Chemistry from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

His research interest is on maternal and child nutrition, micronutrients, dietary intake assessment and interventions to improve diet quality. Dr Baye is Deputy Editor of the journal Public Health Nutrition published by the Cambridge University Press. He is the Vice Chairman of the African Food and Nutrition Forum, and Deputy Secretary for the African Region for the World Public Health Nutrition Association. He is a fellow of the African Science Leadership Program (ASLP), founding member of the Ethiopian Young Academy of Sciences (EtYAS), and Honorary Research Fellow at Bioversity International. He is member of several nutrition societies including the American Society of Nutrition, The Nutrition Society, the World Public Health Nutrition Association, and the Food and Nutrition Society of Ethiopia (FoNSE).

Assefa Bequele

Executive Director, ACPF

Dr Assefa Bequele is the Founder and Executive Director of African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). He has long years of service in the United Nations system (ILO, Geneva, Asia and Africa). He has devoted most of his professional life to the promotion of the rights and welfare of children, especially the progressive elimination of child labour. He was responsible for many years for the design, development and management of the ILO’s International Programme on the 

Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) – the world’s premier technical programme on child labour – and the development of the ILO’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Convention No. 182). Dr Assefa has extensive experience in university teaching in both Ethiopia and the USA and is the author of many publications and articles on child rights and economic development. Dr. Assefa holds a PhD in Economics.

Patrick Canagasingham

Chief Executive Officer, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC)

Patrick Canagasingham, a passionate human-rights advocate, has been championing the needs of vulnerable children and working globally to promote positive change since before he took the helm at Christian Children’s Fund of Canada in April 2017. In his previous position as Chief Operating Officer at Oxfam International, Patrick combined expert operational management, strategic planning and organizational leadership. 

Prior to Oxfam, Patrick held senior roles with World Vision, including, Vice-President, International Programs at World Vision Canada, where he was accountable for planning, implementing and evaluating the organization’s international program commitments in close to 70 countries in conjunction with other World Vision offices. The breadth of Patrick’s experience includes practical and leadership responsibilities with humanitarian non-governmental organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and previous corporate experience in the Canadian banking sector. Patrick holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights from the University of London, UK and a B.A. from York University, Toronto, Canada.

Bience Gawanas

Special Adviser on Africa, Under-Secretary-General of the UN 

Ms Gawanas has served as Special Adviser to the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Namibia. Prior to this, she was Special Adviser to the Minister of Health and Social Services. A champion of women’s health and rights in Africa, she has been commended for her role in initiating far-reaching campaigns such as the continental Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

Ms Gawanas was elected for two terms as the Commissioner for Social Affairs by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 and 2008, during which time she was responsible for advocacy as well as the harmonization and coordination of regional and continental policies and programme on promoting social development. Her portfolio included health, HIV/AIDS and nutrition, migration and population, arts and culture, the welfare of vulnerable groups, labour and migration, and sports. Prior to her work as Commissioner, she was Ombudswoman of Namibia (1996-2003). She has also worked as a lawyer at the Legal Assistance Centre, a human rights NGO (1990-1991) and as a lecturer on gender law at the University of Namibia (1995-1997).

She has served on various taskforces and commissions, including the UNAIDS Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Coordination Among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors, the Task Force for Scaling-up Education and Training of Health Workers, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, the Global Steering Committee on Scaling-up towards Universal Access, and the Lancet-Oslo University Commission on Global Governance for Health.

She holds an LLB Honours degree from the University of Warwick, UK, and an Utter Barrister Degree from the Council of Legal Education School of Law/Lincolns Inn, UK. She also holds an Executive MBA from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and an honorary doctorate degree in Law from the University of Western Cape. Born in 1956 she has four children and four grandchildren.

Mrs Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe

Chairperson, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)

Mrs Goitseone Nanikie NKWE is the Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). She has held several positions in the Public Service of Botswana including serving as Policy Advisor for Orphan Care and Home Based Care in the Ministry of Local Government, at which she also served as Director for Social Services. She has also worked as Technical Advisor for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Government of Lesotho

Under the Health Systems Strengthening Project, she was instrumental in the establishment of the Child Welfare Unit of the then Department of Social Welfare and in the introduction of the Lesotho Child Cash Grant for families caring for OVC. She also contributed to the establishment of the Ministry of Social Development of Lesotho.
Mrs Nkwe was instrumental in the establishment of HIV & AIDS mitigation programs; particularly the Orphan and Vulnerable Children’s policies, strategic plans and programs in both Botswana and Lesotho during the heightened fight against the HIV pandemic. She has extensive experience working with development partners in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of child welfare programs. She also contributed to the review of the Botswana Children’s Act of 1981, which led to the enactment of the 2009 Children’s Act. She is currently serving as Deputy District Commissioner in Botswana; where she is the administrative head of a Sub-District and is responsible for coordination of district development programs. In this position she also serves as Commissioner for Child Welfare in the District. Mrs Nkwe holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Natal (RSA) and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Botswana.

Dr Kalle Hirvonen

Research Fellow, IFPRI 

Dr Kalle Hirvonen is a development economist and a Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. He is based in Addis Ababa where he works in the Ethiopia Strategy Support Program. Kalle’s research interests lie in food and nutrition security with a particular focus on agriculture-nutrition linkages. He is also involved in evaluating large-scale development programs in the country, such as the Productive Safety Net Programme.

Kalle holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. His research has been published in international peer-reviewed journals in different fields, including Economics, Development Studies, Nutrition and Human Biology.


Dr Natalia Kanem

Executive Director, UNFPA

Dr Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund On 3 October 2017, United Nations Secretary-Genera lAntónio Guterres appointed Dr Natalia Kanem as Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Dr. Kanem brings to the position more than 30 years of strategic leadership experience in medicine, public and reproductive health, social justice and philanthropy. 

She started her career in academia with the Johns Hopkins and Columbia University schools of medicine and public health. While serving as a Ford Foundation Officer from 1992 to 2005, she helped pioneer work in women’s reproductive health and sexuality, in particular through her position as the representative for West Africa. She then served at the Foundation headquarters, becoming Deputy Vice-President for its worldwide peace and social justice programmes in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and North America. From 2014 to 2016, Dr Kanem served as UNFPA Representative in the United Republic of Tanzania. In July 2016, she was named Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA in charge of programmes.

Dr Kanem was founding president of ELMA Philanthropies Inc., a private institution focusing primarily on children and youth in Africa. She also has been a senior associate of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies. Dr Kanem holds a medical degree from Columbia University, New York, and a Master’s degree in Public Health, with specializations in epidemiology and preventive medicine, from the University of Washington, Seattle. She is also a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied history and science. Dr Kanem becomes the fifth Executive Director of UNFPA since the Fund became operational in 1969.

Dr Julitta Onabanjo

Regional Director, East and Southern Africa, UNFPA

Dr. Onabanjo joined UNFPA in 1995 as a National Programme Officer and thereafter as a Programme Specialist in Swaziland and Kenya, before she served at UNFPA Headquarters as Technical Advisor, HIV/AIDS, and later as Special Assistant to the Executive Director. More recently, she has held UNFPA Representative posts in Tanzania and in South Africa.Before joining UNFPA, Dr. Onabanjo worked for Planned Parenthood as Programme Director and prior to this, she worked for the Ministry of Health in Nigeria.

Dr. Onabanjo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in biology from the University of London and a Medical Doctor degree from the University of Zambia, in addition to a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Graça Machel

Founder, Graça Machel Trust ; Chair, International Board of Trustees, ACPF

Mrs Graça Machel is a renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She is a former freedom fighter and was the first Education Minister of Mozambique. Her contributions to the Africa Progress Panel, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group and the High-Level Panel on Post 2015 Development Agenda have been widely appreciated. 

She is a member of The Elders, Girls Not Brides, Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, African Ambassador for A Promised Renewed, President of SOAS, University of London, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Board Chair of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, President of the Foundation for Community Development and Founder of the Zizile Institute for Child Development. As Founder of the newly established Graça Machel Trust, she has focused more recently on advocating for women’s economic and financial empowerment, education for all, an end to child marriage, food security and nutrition, and promoting democracy and good governance.

Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur

Associate Professor of Law and Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute

Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur is an Associate Professor of Law, and Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute (named after its founder, the first Minister of Justice of Democratic South Africa) for Constitutional Law, Governance, and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa.

Professor Mezmur is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and served as its Chairperson from 2015-2017, and as Vice-Chairperson from 2013-2015. He continues to serve on the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), a treaty body of the African Union. He served as its Chairperson twice, from 2012-2014, and from 2015-2017, and is currently its special rapporteur on children and armed conflict in Africa.

Professor Benyam has published a number of articles on children’s rights in Africa and internationally, and has lectured/served fellowships among others at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), AboAkademi (Finland), Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Groningen University (The Netherlands), and Central European University (Hungary). He received his Bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) from the Addis Ababa University, a Master’s degree (LLM) from the University of Pretoria (Centre for Human Rights), South Africa, and a Doctorate in Law (LLD) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. In early 2018, he was appointed as Deputy Dean for Post-Graduate and Research Matters of the Faculty. He worked for The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) from 2003 to 2005 as a Legal Officer.s.

Dr Remember Miamingi

Child Protection Adviser, Peace and Security Department, African Union

Dr. Remember Miamingi is currently the Child Protection Adviser attached to the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission where he supports the PDS’s efforts to promote knowledge and policies that advance the protection of children affected by armed conflicts.

An international lawyer and a Human Rights and Governance expert, Dr. Miamingi has worked for governmental, non-governmental and academic sectors for the past 17 years. Dr. Miamingi is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, and he holds a Master of Laws and Doctor of Laws Degrees from the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. Dr. Miamingi is a South Sudanese.

Dr Richard Morgan

International Advocacy Director, Plan International

Dr Richard Morgan is the International Advocacy Director for Plan International and a Member of ACPF’s International Board of Trustees. He is the co-founder and co-leader of the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty. Previously, Dr Morgan was the Director of the Child Poverty Global Initiative and Senior Advisor of Social Protection at Save the Children from 2014-2018. He was the Senior Advisor on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), responsible for promoting children’s rights and equity in the formulation of the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs.

Dr Morgan was the Deputy Director, and later, Director of Policy and Practice at UNICEF from 2002-2012, responsible for organisational standards and practice in the areas of gender equality, children’s rights, reaching marginalised populations, child and youth participation and communication for development. Dr Morgan also led UNICEF’s work on child-sensitive social protection, social statistics and advocacy for child-focused, pro-poor social and economic policies. Earlier, he worked in Africa for over 20 years as a rural development specialist, economic and social sector advisor and humanitarian programme manager. He planned and managed large-scale emergency response programmes in Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia. Richard was a civil servant for 7 years with the Government of Botswana at central and local government levels, working on food security, safety nets, drought response, livelihood and poverty reduction programmes before joining UNICEF. Dr Richard is a graduate of the University of Oxford, UK and has a BA in Economics and Politics.

Mr Saurabh Sinha

Chief of the Social Policy Section at the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, UNECA

Mr Saurabh Sinha is the Chief of the Social Policy Section at the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He has a PhD from IDS Sussex and more than 25 years of international economic research, teaching, and policy advisory experience. Prior to joining ECA, Saurabh was Senior Economist with UNDP in Mongolia and has worked with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNDP Viet Nam, and as a consultant to various UNDP Country Offices, the World Bank and bilateral donors.  He has published extensively in international journals and at various times has taught development economics at Sussex University; National Economics University, Hanoi; and IIT, Delhi.

Dr Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse

Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI

Dr Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). His most recent research covered impact evaluation of safety net programs, inter-sectoral growth linkages, performance of cooperatives, crop productivity, aspirations and wellbeing, and rainfall indexed insurance. He is also the current president of the Ethiopian Economics Association. Alemayehu has previously worked as an assistant professor of economics at Addis Ababa University and an economic affairs officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He holds a D. Phil. degree in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Dr Hamid Tabatabai

Senior Development Economist, ACPF

Dr Hamid Tabatabai is a Senior Development Economist who had a long career at the International Labour Office (ILO), both in the headquarters and in the field. He joined the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 2002. Prior to that, he was working as a Senior Labour Market Specialist in Zimbabwe. He has an extensive experience in child labour issues with his current research focusing on cash transfers and social security issues. He has authored and edited a variety of publications. He holds a PhD in Economic Development from Cornell University in New York. Dr Hamid ZTabatabai is a member of ACPF International Board of Trustees.

Mr Hajir Maalim

Regional Director, Action Against Hunger


Hajir Maalim is a humanitarian professional with over 15 years of experience in complex humanitarian environment in Africa and the Middle East. Hajir has worked as a Country Director with Action Against Hunger for six years in Yemen and Somalia. He is currently a Regional Director and oversees Action Against Hunger’s operations in the Horn and Eastern Africa region.

Ms Rachel Toku-Appiah

Nutrition Programme Manager, Graca Machel Trust (GMT)

Rachel Toku-Appiah is the Nutrition Programme Manager at the Graça Machel Trust and has over 20 years of experience working in the private, non-profit and government sectors. In her current role, she focuses on nutrition advocacy and strategies that address nutrition as a development priority. As part of this work, she engages with a wide range of stakeholders from government to civil society and academia, recognising the multi-sectoral effort required to effectively improve nutrition. 

The Trust is currently working extensively with national civil society nutrition networks in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. Through its role as the Secretariat for the SUN East and Southern African Civil Society Nutrition Alliance, the Trust is also engaged in nutrition advocacy in six additional countries, as well as at a continental and global level.

Dr Olivia Yambi

Co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)

Dr. Olivia Yambi is the current Co-Chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). For the last two years she has also been serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Community Systems Foundation (CSF), an international NGO that applies information technology for sustainable development. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Public Health Nutrition Association. 

Dr. Yambi has retired from the UN following two decades of work with the United Nations Children’s Fund in different capacities around the world. She was UNICEF Representative in Kenya 2007-2012, and prior to that she served as UNICEF Representative in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (2003-2007), She was Regional Nutrition Advisor to the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Region 1997-2003, and the Chief of Child Development and Nutrition in the UNICEF India Country Office from 1992 to 1997. In the various capacities she has been responsible for overall strategic guidance to the UNICEF teams, programme conceptualization, leveraging resources for children, and monitoring programme results towards the realisation of the rights of the child.

Prior to joining UNICEF, she worked as Director of Planning with the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre. She has also undertaken numerous consultancies in the field of international nutrition. Dr. Yambi is a national of Tanzania and holds a Ph.D. in International Nutrition with minors in Epidemiology and Agricultural Economics from Cornell University, USA.