CS-SUNN Seeks Implementation Of National Multisectoral Plan Of Action For Nutrition
As over 150 countries including Nigeria celebrates the World Food Day, the Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS SUNN) is calling on the federal and states government to prioritize the food and nutrition needs of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria.
In a statement made available to newsmen, and signed by the Executive Secretary , CS-Sunn , Mrs Beatrice Eluaka says this can be done by expanding and improving emergency food assistance and social protection programmes.
“Approve and implement the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition to guarantee optimal nutritional status for Nigerians through accelerating the scaling up of priority high impact nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions with focus on the most vulnerable, especially women, children and internally displaced persons.”
“Prioritize nutrition in Nigeria by improving budgetary allocations, releasing and cash backing those allocations while ensuring transparency and accountability in use of funds directed at addressing malnutrition.”
According to the statement” Extend the current 4 months maternity leave for nursing mothers to 6 months to enable them exclusively to breastfeed their babies.”
“Prioritize Nigeria’s Food fortification agenda and ensure an Improved integration of fortification regulatory monitoring into overall food inspection system. This will go a long way in tackling the challenge of “hidden hunger” and micronutrient deficiencies in Nigeria.”
Promote climate-smart and environmentally friendly agricultural practices to preserve the Earth’s natural resources, health, and the climate while also slowing the habitat destruction that contributes to disease outbreaks.
CS-SUNN urges the private sector to respect national food safety regulations and measures to protect food and reinforce good hygienic and food safety practices along the food chains, especially in rural areas. We call on them to support and promote small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to stay in business.
Private sector should continue to invest in sustainable resilient food systems and ensure favourable working conditions that will promote the practice of exclusive breastfeeding- establishment of creches in work places and the adoption of 6 months maternity leave to enable nursing mothers breastfeed their infants exclusively.
We encourage Nigerians to increase their overall demand for nutritious food by choosing healthy, and not allowing sustainable habits fall by the wayside. Nigerians should choose to eat diverse and healthy diets as this will promote their health and wellbeing.
They should join CS-SUNN as advocates by sharing knowledge about eating nutritious foods with family and friends, growing food at home, and raising awareness in their communities.
This commemoration promotes world-wide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food and nutrition security for all. It provides an opportunity to call for global collaboration and efforts to transform food systems by changing the way food is produced, stored, consumed, and even wasted.
The World Food Day further brings to bear another opportunity for governments across the world including the Nigerian government, to act on commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
The theme of the 2020 World Food Day is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together. Our Actions, Our Future.” As the World Food Day is observed globally, it is important to note that in recent times, though some significant progress has been made in improving agricultural productivity and ensuring nutrition security, food systems are out of balance.
Malnutrition, hunger, obesity, environmental degradation, loss of agro-biological diversity, food loss/waste and a lack of security for food chain workers are only some of the issues that underline this imbalance.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 2 billion people do not have regular access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food.
The organization adds that the impact of malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, as well as overweight and obesity – on the global economy is estimated at USD 3.5 trillion per year. In addition, the 2020 Global Food Crises report reveals that 135 million people across 55 countries and territories experience acute food insecurity and require urgent food, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance.
It is worrisome to note that the FAO had also reported that about 7 million Nigerians would experience food shortage between June and August this year.
The FCT including 16 northern states (Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Benue, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara) were identified to face this crisis. Nigeria still has the highest burden of stunting in Africa and is still the second highest in the world next to India.
The country’s current nationwide childhood under-nutrition indicator stands at 37% stunting, 7% wasting and 23% underweight (NDHS, 2018).
Worse still, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this year a challenging one as it largely undermined efforts towards attaining food and nutrition security for all Nigerians. It deepened the challenge of accessibility to safe and nutritious foods and saw malnutrition rates soaring in some states particularly among children.
However, the development and implementation of Nigeria’s COVID-19 recovery plans, provides an array of opportunity to adopt innovative solutions to build back better and improve food systems, making them more resilient to emergencies.
This year’s World Food Day is calling for solidarity among all stakeholders in Nigeria- To Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together and this requires collaborative efforts to ensure food and nutrition security for all Nigerians.
The government at all levels, the Farmer, the consumer, Private Organizations, Civil Society among others all have a role to play in helping all populations, especially the most vulnerable, recover from the crisis, and to make food and nutrition systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate changes.
CS-SUNN emphasizes that Exclusive Breastfeeding particularly for infants in the first 6 months of life remains the best start that will provide infants with adequate nutrients and protect them against childhood killer diseases.
We stress that food is the essence of life and preserving access to safe and nutritious food is, and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic.
It is even more important than ever to recognize the need to support farmers and workers throughout the food system – who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to table even amid disruptions as unprecedented as the current COVID-19 crisis. We call for delivery of affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers.