By Philip Yatai
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called on the Kaduna State Government to strengthen implementation of nutrition interventions to ensure child growth, development and survival.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, made that call in Zaria, at a two-day Review Meeting on allocation, releases and utilisation of nutrition budget.
The meeting was organised by Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), in partnership with the Planning and Budget Commission (PBC) and Save the Children International (SCI).
Ezeife described good nutrition as the “bedrock” of a child’s growth, survival, good health and development, which would equally unlocks children’s potential in the future.
According to her, well-nourished children are better positioned to grow and learn, participate in and contribute to the development of their communities.
“Good nutrition also makes children resilient in the face of disease, disasters and other global crises.”
She commended the state government for providing the enabling environment and partnerships with development partners and relevant stakeholders to implement high-impact, low-cost interventions to address the scourge of malnutrition.
Ezeife, however, noted that in spite of the developed nutrition policies and strategic plans, investment in the sector had remained very low.
The nutrition specialist pointed out that the low investment in the sector was among major factors responsible for the high burden of malnutrition in the state.
“The state government should, therefore, increase funding of the sector and ensure cash backing of allocated funds for relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to effectively implement nutrition programmes.
“This will significantly reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among children under five years and increase the children’s chances of survival to adulthood.
“UNICEF will continue to provide technical and financial support to strengthen nutrition programming and implementation of result-oriented interventions that will improve the quality of life of children,” she said.
Mr Kunle Ishola, Project Assistant, CS-SUNN, Abuja, said that the objective of the meeting was for stakeholders to ascertain the level of nutrition investment and performance in the state.
“We also want to understand the current malnutrition situation in the state and the need for prompt action.
“The meeting will also help stakeholders to secure state commitments toward improving domestic investment in high-impact, low-cost interventions as captured in the state multi-sectoral strategic plans of action for nutrition” he said.