Home Health Nigeria Needs N 7 Trillion To Get Out Of Malnutrition, Stakeholders 

Nigeria Needs N 7 Trillion To Get Out Of Malnutrition, Stakeholders 

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Andy Esiet

Enugu State Commissioner of Budget and Planning, Dr David Ugwunta delivering a paper at the workshop .

As the National Assembly begins to tinker with the 2023 budget, the Enugu State Commissioner of Budget and Planning, Dr David Ugwunta and other stakeholders have  declared that Nigeria needs to invest about N 7 trillion to get out of malnutrition. 

Briefing some news men at weekend at the just concluded five day workshop (October 3 to 7) in Enugu on “‘Community of Practice’ on Building Capacity to Mainstream Nutrition into the Investment Agenda” organised by the Enugu state Ministry of Budget and Planning in collaboration with United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for select health, nutrition experts, journalists and others from Abia, Enugu, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Rivers, Delta, Ebonyi,  Benue, Anambra, Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Commissioner said what we can do differently to boost nutrition is to continue making investments.

He said, “I do not know how investments have been in the past but we were told in this workshop that the Federal Government requires N 7 trillion naira to make ensure we are out of malnutrition. It needs dedication of funds and dedication of people who are in policy making and who are at the other end to make sure that deliverables get to the grassroots.

“All these stakeholders in nutrition have to dedicate their time, energy and resources to do things differently because part of what came out here is that even when investments are not made, the little being made does not go down to where it is supposed to. That is why we need to re-dedicate ourselves and redefine our purpose in the fight against malnutrition and once that is done, even if N1 million is invested, it will go a long way because it will definitely have it’s own multiplier effect for things to run around”.

To achieve this, he stated that “it has to do with development and it does not happen overnight, so we should be talking about a period of three to five years if there is dedicated spending in the right places and i know that in 3-5 years, even before the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of 2030, Nigeria will go a long way in fighting this issue of malnutrition”.

Ugwunta who described his governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as “nutrition friendly”, said “first of all, everything starts with political will. So there has to be that political will to make the investment to fight malnutrition. Just like we have been told here, you cannot just include nutrition activities in your budget line. You need to identify what these activities are and it is also when you have those activities identified that you can situate them properly in the budget. The budget gives teeth for government performance and what you do not have in the budget becomes a problem in terms of implementation. Political will needs to be there, funds have to be dedicated and when nutrition activities and intervention finds its way into the budget, it also has to be funded because if it gets into the budget and funds are not released, then we have gotten it wrong”.

He commended UNICEF for doing a good job saying, “if other organisations and partners can emulate what UNICEF is doing, we would go a long way. For me, UNICEF is second to none. The basic thing is all other agencies, especially those in the North, should begin to look down South because the way Nigeria is, if you solve a problem in one area without solving it in another, you have actually not solved the problem”.

He said “over the five days we have been here, we have seen presentations on how people can lead advocacy, dialogue, get government at all levels involved, as well as private sectors…Nutrition is multi-sectoral and by that, it has so many arms involved in the fight against malnutrition which includes ministry of health, water, education, information, gender etc and it also involves private sectors and development agencies like UNICEF” .

The Commissioner pointed out that the ministry of budget and planning plays coordination role on issues of nutrition and “seeing what malnutrition can do and how far backwards it has dragged the country, irrespective of the investments the government has been making at the federal, state and local government levels, it now seems like nothing has been achieved because of the high level of poverty and this level of poverty is increased by the herder-farmers clash, insecurity in the country and most recently, the flooding happening in most states across the coastal region.

“We are trying to come out from the negative effects of Covid19 and now all these are happening, making it seem like all the government’s investment in the fight against poverty and provision of food security is not yielding the needed benefits. All these have led to the situation of malnutrition and we deem it fit to have this practice for States within the UNICEF field offices

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