By Adedayo Akinwale
All Progressives Congress – controlled states have adopted a proposed framework for common policy initiatives on promoting child nutrition.
The decision was reached as part of their determination to put the issue of child nutrition on the front burner and develop an enduring framework that would 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.
This was disclosed in a communiqué issued on Saturday, which was jointly signed by the Governor of Plateau State and Co-Chairman Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Governance Programme Steering Committee, Simon Lalong, and Governor of Kebbi State and Co-Chairman, Badaru Abubakar, after a teleconference meeting of Secretaries to Governments of APC States held on Thursday.
The main objective of the 9th Quarterly meeting was to review the details of the framework on promoting child nutrition in the APC States, while also providing necessary guidance to enhance the development of common policy initiatives in APC States and effective engagement of all stakeholders on issues of child malnutrition.
The APC states decried widespread crisis of child malnutrition among children under five years of age in Nigeria and the associated wasting, stunting, low cognitive ability among children, and the resultant low earning capabilities after they have become adults.
The APC states said the issue of malnutrition and undernourishment was 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.
The APC states noted that COVID-19 pandemic had introduced entirely new dimensions to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond the children, also to include the adult population.
The APC Governors therefore affirmed their commitment to 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.
In addressing the challenge of malnutrition, they are of the opinion that increasing investment in child nutrition is essential to ensure good health and nutrition of children that will accelerate the attainment of the UN-SDGs and zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030, within the shortest time;
The APC states said there was urgent need to improve the implementation of school feeding programmes and make monitoring and accountability part of the programme implementation.
They equally pointed out that child nutrition begins from pregnancy, and as such there was need to make sure that pregnant women eat well as this is critical to delivering healthy babies.
The communique stated: “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;
“Accordingly, the meeting adopted a proposed framework for Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in APC States for the consideration of Progressive Governors.
“Increased commitment and political will towards improving child nutrition in the APC States through enhancing resource mobilisation and incorporating in the annual budget both nutrition specific interventions and programmes and nutrition sensitive programmes.”
“Plan and implement nutrition policy interventions and programmes that will be sustainable and resilient to the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated economic fallouts.
“Develop and strengthen legislation, policies, strategies and action plans with measurable outcomes for nutritional and related interventions, including pregnant women, youth, and other vulnerable households.”