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Advocating improved nutrition financing in Nigeria

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
07 July 2022   |   4:07 am
Stakeholders have decried fragmented and poor funding of nutrition-related activities by the Federal government across relevant sectors with resultant poor nutritional indices and called for collaborative efforts to enhance nutritional financing in Nigeria.

NUTRITION- The first 1,000 days of a child’s life offer a unique window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences. See how UNICEF targets its actions to this critical period to ensure good nutrition for every child in Nigeria. CREDIT: UNICEF

•Stakeholders decry fragmented, poor funding of nutrition-related activities
Stakeholders have decried fragmented and poor funding of nutrition-related activities by the Federal government across relevant sectors with resultant poor nutritional indices and called for collaborative efforts to enhance nutritional financing in Nigeria.

This is coming even as children under two years suffer non-nutritional diseases.

Speaking in Abuja on Monday during a one day workshop on Nutrition Resource Tracking for relevant stakeholders at federal level drawn across relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and development partners, the Country Director, Results for Development (R4D), Dr. Hope Clueja, said there is a degree of insensitivity in terms of how nutrition is being financed in Nigeria, adding that the major challenge in financing nutrition in the country is that of placing properly who is responsible for financing it.

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP) in collaboration with R4D.

He said, “As it is now, one of the challenges of nutrition in the country is that of placing properly who is responsible for financing it. So, there is this assumption that it is the Ministry of health that will do that, Ministry of agriculture, the Ministry of women affairs. You find out that there is a degree of insensitivity in terms of how nutrition is being financed. And if we don’t know how nutrition is being financed, it will be difficult to mobilize resources for it.”

According to him, to change the essence of improving nutrition financing in Nigeria, there is need for multi-sectoral collaboration. “We need to see just what was done for the project. We need to see a situation where various ministries that are currently involved in one form or the other, whether Ministry of education, health, water resources, agriculture, women Affairs and development partners, come together and begin to take a more uniform and integrated approach to funding nutrition in the country,” he said.

He said the purpose of the workshop was to sensitize participants with the data collection tool intended to be used for resource tracking.

“So, the project under review, which brought us here today is a collaboration between Results for Development Globally and Ministry of finance budget and National planning. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the project and the essence of the project is to know who is currently financing nutrition in the country. And what this project seeks to do is to be able to determine that quantum financing whether by the government, Development partners or by the private sectors,” Clueja explained.

Also, speaking, the Permanent Secretary, MBNP, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, who was represented by the Director, Social Development, Dr. Sanjo Faniran, noted that the essence of the workshop was to consider the baseline review of resources survey, which was conducted at both the national and sub-national levels.

She stated that the result of the survey revealed gaps in nutrition spending across relevant MDAs and the gaps need an urgent attention by stakeholders.

Idowu noted that dearth of nutrition data poses a great challenge to addressing questions to which policymakers need to have answers to in tackling the problems of malnutrition and improve food systems as a way of delivering healthy diets to the Nigerian populace.

She said as part of efforts to ensuring improved funding for nutrition towards achieving better nutrition outcome, they have embarked on some game-changing strategies. “One of the steps taken is the prioritisation of National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (NMPFAN 2021-2025) in the National Development Plan (NDP 2021-2030),” she said.

On his part, the Lead, Nutrition Resource Tracking Study, Dr. Lekan Olubajo, identified poor funding as a major problem facing nutrition activities in Nigeria.

“Nutrition is very important for National development particularly in children less than two years. Currently, we do not give more attention to funding nutrition activities in terms of our children having optimal nutrition,” he said.