By Hassan Zaggi
Unless drastic measures are taken to improve the nutrition situation of children under 5 years by the governments at all levels in the northern part of the country, the region will continue to remain backward for many generations to come.
Reason: Half of the children in the northern part of the country are said to be stunted.
A Nutrition Consultant, Bamidele Davis Omotola, made the disclosure at a 2-day media dialogue on management of severe acute malnutrition with selected journalists, in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.
The media dialogue was put together by the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Federal Ministry of the Information and Culture with funding from UK Department for International Development (DfID).
Omotola further revealed that 1 in every 2 children are stunted in North East and North West.
Findings revealed that stunting among children can have long‐term effects on cognitive development, school achievement, economic productivity in adulthood and maternal reproductive outcomes.
Some of the major causes of stunting among children include intrauterine growth retardation, inadequate nutrition to support the rapid growth and development of infants and young children.
In a presentation titled: ‘Child Malnutrition and the Emergency in North Eastern Nigeria’, Omotola revealed that 50 per cent of children in the 12 northern states are stunted while only 20 per cent of children in the rest of the country are stunted.
According to him, “One Severe Acute Malnutrition case for every 6 children are reported in 3 North Eastern emergency states and one Severe Acute Malnutrition case for every 7 children are reported in 9 northern none emergency states, while only one severe acute malnutrition case for every 7.1 children is reported in the rest of the country.”
Responding to questions from The AUTHORITY, Omotola, however, said that the failure of the governance in the north contributed in fueling the malnutrition situation in the region.
According to him: “It is a failure of governance in the north.
“I showed you that we have the greatest number of children out of school in the north, the number of women that did not go to school in the north are high. Why did their women not go to school? Why are their children not in school? Those critical things are not prioritized for people in the north.
“Poverty is prevalent in the north, no industries, they depended on the fact that people should be doing farming. They only do subsistence farming, just to get what to eat.
“It is a failure of governance because the potential resources are not used to develop the people. The people are not aware, they are not knowledgeable and they are not given the skills to be able do that.
“The indirect methods and approaches that are being used are not also helping. Women are not empowered to take decision.”
While calling for a change of attitude among leaders of the north in order to reverse the situation, Omotola said: “People in the north should look at the issues and proffer a way of solving them and not anybody dictating to them from outside. Other regions in the country are moving but the north is stagnant.”