Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
UNICEF has described as hope-raising efforts of the governments of Delta, Akwa Ibom, and other States in the South-south geopolitical zone towards drastic reductions of malnutrition and its attendant problems in their respective states.
UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Rivers State, Dr. Guy M.M. Yogo, made the commendation while speaking with journalists on the sideline of a four-day ‘Community of Practice’ workshop with the theme: ‘Capacity to Mainstream Nutrition in State Government Investment Agenda in UNICEF Rivers Field Office’, involving Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Yogo, however, said a lot still needed to be done by the states of the designated area to reduce malnutrition to globally acceptable levels within the shortest possible time.
He harped on the need for state governments to scale-up nutrition investment not only through substantial increase in direct allocation to nutrition and related sectors but such allocation should be backed by actual releases for nutrition activities.
The UNICEF regional chief said after undertaking a tour of some of the states, and having studied reports on their activities and investment blueprint particularly the respective budgets, he found the apparent commitment of the government of Delta, Akwa Ibom and Rivers State quite commendable.
Yogo said: “Malnutrition is a complex issue. It’s not about the quantity of food; it’s about the quality and level of nourishment. The are many questions on why many children are wasting. Look at the problem of open defecation. So, we still need improved hygiene and sanitation.
‘’There is the need to cut down the malnutrition rate. However, we are very hopeful because there are a lot of opportunities. It is true we are talking about investment, and we believe we can do so at a low cost but with high impact.
‘’So, it is not just about money, it is more about behavioural change at the individual, family, community and local government levels. We must ensure we have a strong coalition to push the process.
‘’We believe the political will is there (in the respective states). We also believe that the commitment is there. All we need to do is work together and achieve the desired result for our people.”