Nutrition Advocacy: Save the Children and CS-SUNN advocate for nutrtion funding in Agriculture
By James Bigila, Media Coordinator
An advocacy visit was done to the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu by Save the Children and CS-SUNN recently at the National Assembly Abuja, Nigeria.
The purpose of the visit was to advocate for better Nutrition resourcing and a budget in the Agricultural sector towards tackling Malnutrition in Nigeria.
Dr. Yinka Adekugbe, Nutrition Advisor for Save the Children, in her opening remarks stated that one in five Nigerian children under 5 years are malnourished.
She said, “The last NPHI survey says that 10.8 million children are malnourished which means over 20% are malnourished and they are under 5”.
She explained that one in every 5 children under 5 years is malnourished. Malnourishment affects the cognitive development of these children as they will be unable to reach their full potential. This is significant because they cannot contribute to the GDP of the nation.
In her remarks, she called on everyone, not just mothers, to respond to the issue of Malnutrition in Nigeria. She stated the importance of agriculture towards tackling Malnutrition in Nigeria because for children to get the effective nutrition supplements, they need the right food with nutritious content.
She stated that the visit was done in other to talk with the legislative arm of government to also work with the executive arm of government towards tackling the problem of Malnutrition in the country.
Dr. Yinka Adekugbe speaking during the visit to the Senator Commitee Chairman on Agriculture at the National Assembly
Also speaking during the visit, Mr. Innocent Ifedilichukwu, Nutrition Coordinator for Save the Children thanked the Committee Chairman on some of the policies in place to tackle malnutrition in the country during the visit. He stated that the problem of Malnutrition if left unsolved will make it difficult for the young generation growing up to fit into the shoes of the present leadership in the country.
He said, “If nothing is done concerning this problem, we will not be able to have a generation that will fit into the shoes of their elders and leaders as they will be deprived of development due malnutrition and stunted growth. In the long run we may end up having people that will not be able to fit into those shoes. We are asking for a drastic and urgent change for the children.
A representative from CS-SUNN, Mrs Jane said CS-SUNN is creating awareness on malnutrition and advocating for policies that have been developed by the government to be implemented.
She said, “One policy that needs to be implemented is the health sector national strategic plan on nutrition. We are pushing for this to be implemented.
CS-SUNN works in Kaduna, Niger, and Nasarawa and these three states have shown support and interest in the implementation of the plan.
She said CS-SUNN will be supporting Save the Children and called on the support of the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture for the implementation of the agriculture strategic plan.
Save the Children’s Head of Hunger and Livelihoods, Mr Chachu Tachida said that House hold Income contributes to the issue of malnutrition globally. He stated that a survey by Save the Children in Zamfara, Jigawa and Katsina State indicates that 74% of households in the states mentioned are very poor and this has contributed to children been malnourished in these states in Nigeria. He gave the Kenyan government approach towards tackling Malnutrition in Kenya.
Mr. Chachu said, “one of the ways by which the government and donors tackle malnutrition in Kenya is by investing in the very poor population by monthly cash transfer programs, so the chronic poor can meet their basic needs and also address the issue connected to food insecurity and malnutrition.
He called on the Nigerian upper legislative arm to adopt the Kenyan model by investing into monthly cash transfer programs for the extremely poor in other to tackle the issue of malnutrition in Nigeria.
He said, “I understand there is a plan in the next 1 year or 2 to support the very poor. We request that you put your weight into it so that there shall be support for the very poor”.
In responding to the issues raised, the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture thanked Save the Children and CS-SUNN for the visit. He stressed that the statistics shared by Save the Children and CS SUNN on the figures of Malnourished children in Nigeria was quite alarming.
The Committee Chairman Said, “obviously we know nutrition is essential. There is a bill that is been passed to make food a right in Nigeria, while I was making the debate on that we want to make sure that this food has the basic nutritional components and I am happy that you have raised the issues of income”.
He also stressed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding by mothers to their children for the first 6 months a child is born.
He said, “the mother should be the first person a child gets her/his nutrients from, the moment a child is not given the opportunity to feed from the mother, the child is been denied the necessary nutrients needed for growth and as far as I am concerned, this is very important as that is where the first pointers of nutrition starts. But this is not to run away from the problem at hand”.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu in his remarks said there were identifiable limitations and problems to the existing acts in place that do not appear to take up the problems of Malnutrition properly. He said the legislative house having identified the limitations in these laws, is working to have the laws amended in particular ways and also make laws where they don’t exist at all.
He said, “we want laws for development to be enacted so you will know what arm will confront the problems that you brought”.
On the issue of poverty, Senator Abdullahi Adamu stated that illiteracy combined with poverty has been a major factor as most rural dwellers don’t know what food will be seen as nutritious when they feed their children.
He said, “Till date the ratio of people that take antenatal care is less than those that don’t. because it’s not only that we have to to take steps, we also have to know the underlining problem causing the present issue because the real African child, is down there in the rural area and we will find out that the mother does not even know about anything called clinic or doctor or a gynecologist”.
He stated that the threats to issues of malnutrition lies in the rural areas and also promised to work towards introducing some legislations, and also look at inadequacies of some of those legislations and work to implement these policies.
A presentation was made to Senator Abdullahi Adamu and a report by CS-SUNN was presented to the Senate Committee Chairman On Agriculture.
At the end of the visit, the Senator Abdullahi Adamu suggested that a proposal on legislation towards including Nutrition in Agricultural sector should be submitted by Save the Children and CS-SUNN so it gets legislative backing for implementation.
The Senate Commitee Chairman on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu listening to presentations by Save the Children and CS-Sunn