UN: 70% of N’west Population Live below Poverty Line

• Laments spate of nutrition crisis in Katsina

Francis Sardauna in Katsina

The United Nations (UN) has lamented the spate of the nutrition crisis in the North-west region of Nigeria, saying 70 per cent of the region’s population live below the poverty line.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, disclosed this in an audience with Governor Aminu Masari at the Government House.

Schmale, who said he was in Katsina to get a better understanding of the nutrition and food security situation of the state, described the nutrition crisis bedevilling children in the region as staggering and worrisome.

He explained that it was traumatizing to see how children were suffering because they could not get the right or enough food to eat, adding that the situation should be addressed in order to alleviate the plights of the victims.

He noted, however, that insecurity, poverty and lack of knowledge were the driving factors of the nutrition crisis afflicting children in Katsina and the North-west in general.

Schmale expressed the readiness of the UN and other development partners to work together with the North-west governors to address the prevailing cases of malnutrition among children in the region.

Schmale said: “Your Excellency, what we saw in summary today (Monday) is a couple of things; one is that there is a nutrition crisis all over Nigeria, including Katsina. What I have been educated on today is that the drivers of this crisis in your state are a mixture of three factors: one is insecurity and another one is poverty.

“I stand to hear some of your colleagues talk about 70 per cent of your population living below the poverty line. That is staggering and worrying. And Your Excellency, you talked about your concern for your people on many occasions, including how to end this.

“And thirdly, in some places, it also seems to be about knowledge or lack of knowledge so education is part of it. I think for any person as a father myself, standing to see children suffering because they didn’t get the right food or not enough food is a traumatic sight. So, that is clearly a problem to be addressed.

“So, if I had to talk to the humanitarian country team, I would say I have seen with my own eyes a crisis around nutrition in Katsina State. I have seen serious efforts by the government and humanitarian actors to tackle it but the response has to scale off.”

Responding, Governor Masari said insecurity, poverty, cultural beliefs, lack of education and skills to acquire knowledge that will make citizens productive are the bane of severe and acute malnutrition bedevilling children in the state.

He said: “Another factor, which we are ignoring, is adult education. It is very important because the father knows the value of education before he invests in educating his child. All these that we are talking about centre on the issue of education. That is why we have this acute and severe malnutrition.”

He, however, said residents of the state should be educated and trained on how to produce local read-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) at community level in order to tackle malnutrition among children in the state.

The governor said the state needs interventions in the areas of education and skill development in order to boost food production and eradicate poverty among its citizens.

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