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UNICEF: 14.5m Nigerians suffer acute food insecurity

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
23 April 2022   |   4:05 am
About 14.5 million Nigerians suffer from acute food insecurity while about 12.5 million people are hungry.

About 14.5 million Nigerians suffer from acute food insecurity while about 12.5 million people are hungry. 

The figures indicated that Nigeria still remains off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Two of ensuring zero hunger.

The Nutrition Officer of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Nkeiruka Enwelum, who disclosed this at a media dialogue on ‘SDGs as Child Rights’ organised in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, yesterday, in Enugu, said Nigeria ranks number one in Africa and second in the world in terms of the number of children malnourished, adding that about 35 million children in the country under the age of five were malnourished. 

Enwelum noted that 3.3 million child deaths annually were attributed to malnutrition, stressing that poor nutrition in the first 1000 days from the conception of a child to two years of age results in permanent damage. 

She said: “Nutrition situation in Nigeria is worrisome and requires strategic action. The burden of malnutrition is extremely high in the Northwest and Northeast. Failure to prevent and treat malnutrition can result in long term cognitive and growth impacts, loss of income for households and up to 15 per cent GDP loss for Nigeria, increased morbidity and potential death.”

Enwelum stressed the need to focus on Infant and Young Child Feeding and ensure that children aged under five years benefit from diets, practices and services that prevent stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies including anaemia as well ensure that pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers and adolescents benefit from diets, practices and services that protect them from under nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, including anaemia.

Also speaking, a university don, Dr. Chidi Ezinwa, who stated that Nigeria was far from realising the SDGs, pointed out that Nigeria was ranked 160th on the SDG World index 2020 from 159th in 2019. 

He observed that the SDGs could not be realised without fulfilling the rights of children, adding that the SDG index shows that many rights of children were yet to be fulfilled in Nigeria.

He said: “Actualising a sustainable future depends on how we meet the needs of children and the young people today. Childhood continues to be cut short when children are forced to leave school, survival rights, protection rights, participation and development rights. SDG document is a human rights document and a blueprint for achieving a better and sustainable future for all by 2030.”

Earlier, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, noted malnutrition was not a northern problem, adding that many children in the South were malnourished.