By Philip Yatai
The Save the Children International (SCI) on Tuesday commended the Kaduna State Government for sustaining its over N1 billion annual budgetary allocation for nutrition interventions in the state.
Mr Isah Ibrahim, SCI’s Nutrition Advocacy Advisor, Kaduna Field Office, gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.
Ibrahim explained that a total of N543.6 million was allocated for nutrition sensitive (preventive) and nutrition specific (curative) interventions across eight Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in the state’s 2021 approved budget.
He identified the MDAs with nutrition budget lines in the 2021 Budget to include the Planning and Budget Commission, Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency.
“Others are the State Universal Basic Education Board, College of Health and Science Technology, Makarfi, and ministries of health, agriculture, education and public works and infrastructure,” he said.
He added that each of the 23 local government areas of the state equally allocated at least N22 million for nutrition interventions in their 2021 budget, amounting to over N500 million.
According to him, the interventions will significantly reduce the rate of malnutrition currently affecting about one million children under five years in the state if the cash backing was released timely.
“SCI has been advocating for a sustainable annual food and nutrition related budget for nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions at the state and the local government levels.
“We have worked with relevant MDAs, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders to push for a reasonable allocation during the 2021 budget process.
“We further engaged the process during the Budget Townhall Meeting organised by the state Planning and Budget Commission, as well as the budget public hearing held by the State Assembly.
“I want to say that we are happy that the government was able to maintain this reasonable allocation despite the economic crises compounded by COVID-19.”
He, however, called on the state government to ensure timely release and cash backing of the allocated funds, to enable the MDAs implement the various interventions against malnutrition.
He also appealed to the government to cash back the N100 million approved for the procurement of Ready-To- Use- Therapeutic Food being used in the treatment of severe acute malnourished children.
“We also commend the local government’s chairmen for ensuring a monthly release and cash backing of one million naira each for nutrition programming and activities,” Ibrahim said.