An estimated 440,000 children under five years of age will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states this year, the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) has said.
The international agency said Nigeria is in dire need of N4.4 billion to procure 229,636 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to address malnutrition in Borno State in the coming year.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Aminu Usman, made this known at the opening of a “two-day media dialogue on integrated and timely response to nutrition-related humanitarian needs” in Maiduguri, on Thursday.
The dialogue is organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF, with support from the Department for International Development (DFID).
The event held just as a PREMIUM TIMES report showed that child malnutrition cases in Borno had continued to rise despite international interventions.
UNICEF said it also needs N5 billion for the procurement of 258,950 cartons of RUTF for severe acute malnutrition for 2020.
He said UNICEF has been able to secure procurement for 29,314 cartons out of the total number needed.
This, he said, has left a funding gap of N4.4 billion for the procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF.
“N5 billion is needed to necessitate the procurement of 258,950 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) treatment.
“Already, 29,314 cartons have been secured, leaving a funding gap of N4.4 billion for the procurement of the remaining 229,636 cartons of RUTF,” he said.
He also noted the likelihood of fresh influx that may exacerbate the already poor nutrition situation in the state.
In her remarks, another Nutrition Specialist, Abigael Nyukuri, noted that there is an estimated 2.5million under five years of age suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition.
She said 440,000 children under the age of five are estimated to suffer from SAM this year in the three states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.
The breakdown, according to Ms Nyukuri, shows that Yobe state tops with 13 per cent, followed by Borno with 11 per cent, and Adamawa with 6 per cent.
She further revealed that constraints and insecurity had made the situation even worse in some areas.
“Poor nutrition situation is further exacerbated by the poor food security situation, sub-optimal Water Sanitation and Hygiene practices and high disease burden.
“There is really poor food security in the three states,” she said.
In his opening remarks at the event, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, harped on the need to specifically address nutrition for children in the country.
Represented by the Deputy Director and Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Olumide Osanyinpeju, he said this is important to avoid the consequences of malnutrition.
Mr Mohammed warned that the future of Nigeria is at risk of deprivations of basic social amenities, of which nutrition is inclusive; and especially in the Northern rural and hard-to-reach communities.