Stakeholders and governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic is driving a wedge on efforts to improve child nutrition in the country, aggravating already growing malnutrition among the poor.
Also, 495 sites across the 19 northern states had been located for management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
According to a communiqué issued after a teleconference of Secretaries to Governments of APC States, the meeting was geared towards ‘Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition’, held on Thursday.
Simon Lalong, Plateau State governor, who declared the teleconference open, expressed worries that the pandemic had introduced a new dimension to the crisis of nutrition beyond children to now include the adult population.
Recall that widespread hunger amid limited palliatives was among reasons most Nigerians gave for rejecting the stay-at-home order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Lalong, co-Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Governance Programme Steering Committee, stressed the need for APC governors to come up with uniform policy on child nutrition in their various states.
He said: “The issue of malnutrition and undernourishment is a social, economic and developmental challenge that must be addressed holistically, as part of the nation’s commitment towards the attainment of the United Nations Social Development Goals (UN-SDGs) and meeting the target of zero hunger in the country by 2030.”
He linked widespread crisis of child malnutrition among children under five years in Nigeria and the associated wasting, stunting, low cognitive ability among children, and the resultant low earning capabilities after they had become adults.
He declared APC governors’ determination to put the issue of “child nutrition on the front burner and develop an enduring framework that will not only address the challenge of child nutrition within the shortest time possible but also ensure that access to food by all vulnerable households is reasonably guaranteed at all times.”
Lalong disclosed that APC governors would initiate coordinated action and partnerships with critical stakeholders, including the Federal Government, the National and State Assemblies, development partners, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector, to address the crisis.
He, therefore, called on Secretaries to APC State Governments to broaden and share understanding of the issues related to child nutrition in their respective states, while deepening the scope of interventions that would bring beneficial outcomes.
While hailing the school feeding programme of the APC administration, the forum expressed appreciation to Jigawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Edo, Osun, Nasarawa states, and others for complementing the home grown school feeding programme of the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Forum had, among other things, resolved to increase investment in nutrition of children as quick step to accelerate the attainment of the UN-SDGs and zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030
It also resolved that “Synergy formed between and within the APC states with shared objectives, as well as coordinated actions with critical stakeholders can improve the value, quality, expansion, and sustainability of interventions in child nutrition.
The stressed: “There is the need to adequately plan and develop capacities at all levels for ownership and sustainability of nutrition policies and programmes in the APC states.
“There is an urgent need to improve further the implementation of school feeding programmes and make monitoring and accountability part of the programme implementation in the APC states.
“Child nutrition begins from pregnancy. So, there is the need to make sure that pregnant women eat well as this is critical to delivering healthy babies.”