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IITA, others bag Kuwaiti food security, health awards

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria was among numerous organisations and individuals recognised on Monday in Kuwait City, Kuwait for ground-breaking research on tackling childhood malaria and addressing undernourishment through Africa, which both impact the lives of millions of children across the continent.

Aerial view of IITA structures in Ibadan, Oyo State
Aerial view of IITA structures in Ibadan, Oyo State

The Ibadan, Oyo State-based research body bagged the 2016 Al-Sumait Prize for Food Security for its work in improving the yields and nutritional quality of major staple food crops, such as cassava, banana and maize.

The Board of Trustees meeting of the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development also gave the 2016 Al-Sumait Prize for Food Security to The Sweet Potato for Nutrition Team International Potato Centre, Peru, in advancing the contribution of sweet potato to African farmers and households to address Vitamin A deficiency, one of the most pernicious forms of undernourishment.

Similarly, the Board awarded the 2015 Al-Sumait Prize for Health to Professor Kevin Marsh, from the University of Oxford and African Academy of Sciences, Kenya, for his sustained efforts to control and eradicate malaria, which impacts the health of tens of millions of African children.

Al-Sumait’s Board is chaired by H.E. Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Other board members include Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank; Dr. Kwaku Aning, former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Mr. Abdulatif Alhamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development; and Mr Tareq Al-Mutawa, Executive Member of the Board of Public Gathering Charity Committee.

Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), which administers the awards, said the Board of Trustees was proud to award the prizes to all three recipients who have made major contributions to improving the lives of millions of people throughout Africa.

“We are deeply humbled by the efforts demonstrated by Al-Sumait prize laureates in the pursuit of scientific discoveries to meet the challenges of disease, nutrition, food production and climate change,” he said. He added all the laureates were in the frontline of Africa’s challenges, yet have succeeded despite limited resources.

Al-Sumait Prizes honour individuals or institutions who help advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure in Africa through their sustained research and or innovative projects that result in major impact on the lives and welfare of the people of Africa especially the poor and underprivileged. The awards were instigated on the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

With each award worth one million dollars and a gold medal, Al-Sumait awards are administered by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees who oversee the selection of the recipients. The awards acknowledge the work of the late Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti doctor who dedicated his life to addressing the development challenges confronting Africa and established the Direct Aid humanitarian organisation.

The winning laureates will receive their awards from the Amir of the State of Kuwait and the President of Equatorial Guinea during a ceremony at the Fourth Arab African Summit in Equatorial Guinea on November 22, 2016.

“Each of the winners represent innovative, exciting initiatives being done to address the challenges facing Africa,” said Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin.

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