DFID investment of over #18b has greatly improved nutrition challenges in northeast – Borno Residents
… 5b naira needed to procure RUTF – UNICEF
Borno residents have commended the efforts of the United Nation’s Children Fund, UNICEF, and the Department for International Development, DFID in tackling the serious situation of malnutrition among children and women in the northeastern part of Nigeria.
Speaking with Smartviewsmagazine.com in Maiduguri recently after a 2-day media dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, CRIB, of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF, supported by DFID, many residents of the state and some of those from the IDP camps were full of appreciation to UNICEF, DFID and other stakeholders in addressing the problem of Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
However, they called on government at all levels and other stakeholders to increase funding for child nutrition.
And even from what we saw from those in the IDP camps, one can confidently confirm that the huge investments have started yielding remarkable results when we compared pictures of what it used to be to how it is now.
Speaking at the event, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Abigael Nyukuri revealed that about 2.5million children under the age of five suffer from SAM in Nigeria annually relating this to many economic, social and developmental losses.
“Many things are being done but we still need to do more by scaling up and sustaining all these good efforts.” Nyukuri advised.
She explained some of the various programs by UNICEF in collaboration with DFID and other partners aimed towards addressing the scourge of malnutrition in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
According to her, DFID has invested about #18.2b naira (£41million pounds) which has evidently helped in reducing life-threatening conditions arising from malnutrition among children under the age of five as well as pregnant and lactating women in Bqorno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
“The outcome of the efforts manifested in the improved nutrition status of children under the age of 5, pregnant and lactating women through prevention, detection and treatment of malnutrition using the Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods, RUTF for SAM, giving balanced diet enlightenment and best local foods combination to nursing mothers.
Speaking on; “the Status of Child Nutrition in Borno State”, the Nutrition Manager, UNICEF Maiduguri Office, Mr. Sanjay Kumar Das said that available statistics has shown that 1 out of 2 child deaths under the age of 5 can be attributed to malnutrition.
“In 2018 we admitted 440,000 children that were malnourished, in 2019, we had 321,000 diagnosed with malnutrition and in 2020, we are estimating about 229,000 will be diagnosed with malnutrition.”
Furthermore, he said that the surveillance data indicates some level of improvement in the nutrition situation since the beginning of the response but the wide-spread ignorance, poverty insecurity, population displacement, poor food security, lack of water, hygiene and poor sanitation practices and high disease burden among other factors have been affecting the sorry situation.
Also shedding more light on the matter, another UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist, Aminu Usman, made it known that the latest Nutrition Survey shows that the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children aged below 5years is 11 per cent in Borno, 13 per cent in Yobe and 6 per cent in Adamawa, indicating very high levels of malnutrition according to World Health Organisation Classification.
Usman explained that out of the £41 million (N18.2 billion), £36 million is for the Flexible Integrated &Timely, FIT, project and other multi-sectoral Nutrition Project in Borno and £5 million for Working to Ìmprove Nutrition in Northern Nigeria, WINNN project in Yobe.
“Other DFID projects include community-based management of malnutrition in infants and young child feeding practices, micronutrients supplementation, child protection, water, sanitation & hygiene, early childhood development & surveillance, food security, provision of iron folate drugs, construction of 118 boreholes, surveillance to identify emerging needs, Vitamin A supplementation, provision of Z among others.”
“UNICEF provides 100% of the overall Nutrition Response Needs for RUTF.”
The projects will run in Borno and Yobe from April 2019 to March 2022.
The projects are aimed at detecting emerging needs and urgent malnutrition cases through a nutrition surveillance system and providing a timely response through the implementation of an integrated basic nutrition package.
Also, UNICEF is expected to use the fund to improve maternal and young child nutrition and other DFID-Supported Nutrition Projects. He disclosed further that for 2019 overall Nutrition Response Progress in the BAY States, UNICEF targets 15, 102 for children six to 59 months for SAM but achieved 13,444.
“One of the factors worsening the nutrition situation in Borno is the influx of new IDPs into Rann (Kala Balge), South Yobe, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga Local Government Areas. And if not timely identified and treated, malnutrition has serious and permanent damaging effects on the growth and development of children.” Usman concluded.
Girls under the age of 5 in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states will suffer from Severe Acute
Malnutrition (SAM), a life- threatening condition. In North East Nigeria, the nutrition surveillance data
wide-spread insecurity, population displacement, poor Food Security situation, sub-optimal Water,
Hygiene and Sanitation Practices and high disease burden continue to strain the on-going efforts to curb
malnutrition in all its forms in the region. According to the latest Nutrition Survey, the prevalence of Global
Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among Boys and Girls aged below 5 Years is 11% in Borno, 13% in Yobe and 6%
Adamawa, indicating very high levels of malnutrition according to World Health Organization
classification. The Protracted Access Constraints has made the Situation even worse in Rann (Kala Balge),
South Yobe, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga Local Government Areas.
If not timely identified and treated, malnutrition has serious and permanent consequences in the growth
and development of children. According to data from UNICEF, one out of two child deaths under the age
of 5 is attributed to malnutrition. Children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are 4 to 11
times more likely to die compared to their health counter-parts. Children suffering from SAM are immune-
compromised, increasing their likelihood to suffer from a range of infections and disease complications.
Malnutrition causes irreversible brain damage and compromised intellectual capacity in adulthood
leading to reduced productivity and an estimated 16% loss in the Growth Domestic product.
To support curbing malnutrition in all its forms, UNICEF with funding from DFID is implementing two multi-
sectoral projects to promote positive nutrition outcomes in North East Nigeria; The Flexible Integrated
and Timely (FIT) Project in Borno State and Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN)
project in Yobe State. The FIT project started in April 2019 and will run through March 2022 with a Budget
of 36 M Pounds whilst the WINN project began in April 2019 to March 2020 with a Budget of 5 Million
Pounds. Both projects entail provision of a basic package of nutrition services. To date the FIT and WINN
Projects, UNICEF has been able to treat 165,000 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition using
Ready to Use Therapeutic Food, provide micro-nutrient supplementation to 135,000 children aged 6-23
months and 550,000 Pregnant and Lactating Women were given skilled Infant and Young Child Feeding in
Emergencies Counselling to support maternal nutrition and optimum care and feeding practices for their
children aged below 2 years.
The Nutrition Sector estimates that there will be 258,950 Boys and Girls aged below 5 Years suffering from
SAM in 2020 in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. To ensure the provision of comprehensive treatment,
5 Billion Naira is needed to procure 258,950 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food for SAM treatment.
UNICEF is the sole pipeline agency for RUTF for the collective Response. Against the projected figures,
UNICEF has funds for 29,314 cartons of RUTF, leaving a funding gap of 4.4 Billion Naira for the
procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF. Further Influx of Internally Displaced Persons (new arrivals) may
also further exacerbate the already poor nutrition situation. The affected communities coping
mechanisms is still low, therefore any shock will result in further deterioration of nutrition status
reinforcing the need to have robust contingency plans in place. UNICEF is working through the Nutrition
sector to have a solid contingency plan for the 2020 Nutrition Response.