Poor government budgetary allocation and non-release of funds to respective nutrition budget lines have been linked to the increasing spate of malnutrition in Nigeria.
A report titled National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition and Budget Analysis released in Abuja maintained that lack of commitment are factors militating against efforts to curb malnutrition in the country.
Project Director, Civil Society Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Beatrice Eluaka said aligning implementation of nutrition policies in Nigeria with the 2017 budget in Abuja was crucial, and called on government at all levels to take nutrition serious by allocating enough funds to it in the budget and ensuring timely release.
According to a survey carried out by the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHD), about 2 out of 5 Nigerian children are stunted, with rate of stunting varying throughout the country ranging from 16 percent in the South East and 55 per cent in the North West. It also indicated that about 70 per cent of children aged between 6 to 23 months are not receiving the minimum acceptable diet.
“We are advocating for budget plan for inclusion in the various sectoral ministries for it to be recognise that malnutrition is a multi-sectoral issue. Our policy makers say they have recognised the importance of nutrition as a developmental issue. Globally, the rate of stunting shows that children are malnourished in any country. We are recording a stunting rate of about 37 percent”, Eluaka stated.
According to her, the situation means there is a problem with the rate at which the country is developing. “That is why we are calling on government at every level to ensure that the beautiful policy on food and nutrition which we have developed as well as the accosted action plan for national strategic plan of action for nutrition is fully implemented”, CS-SUNN project manager noted.
Also, at a media roundtable with journalists, CS-SUNN FCT Coordinator, Mrs. Aji Robinson explained that “Nigeria records approximately 800,000 under-five deaths every year, accounting for about 11 per cent of total under-five global deaths.
“Consequently, in FCT, 1 in 8 under 5 years of age and 1 in 20 women suffer some form of malnutrition, including stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies,” Robinson observed.
In her presentation, Ngozika Ogbonna also of CS-SUNN and PACFaH Project, highlighted the imperative of scaling up nutrition budget lines to save millions of children suffering from malnutrition. Ogbonna tasked lawmakers across the country to expedite action in improving budgetary allocation to nutrition related programmes in their respective domains.