By Ezeocha Nzeh
Governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have expressed concern that the invading corona virus pandemic could worsen the nutrition challenge that is being faced by the Nigerian children and the vulnerable
The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) which expressed the fear at the Teleconference meeting of its Programme Steering Committee however expressed the APC Governors determination to put the issue of child nutrition as its major challenge, adding that the PGF would develop an enduring framework that would not only address the challenge of child nutrition within the shortest time possible, but also ensure that access to food by all vulnerable households was reasonably guaranteed at all times
Making his opening remarks at the meeting on Thursday, Governor of Plateau State and co-chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum Governance Programme Steering Committee, Simon Bako Lalong, noted that the pandemic has introduced entirely new dimensions to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond the children, to include the adult population.
With the theme, “Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in the APC States” Governor Lalong described malnutrition and undernourishment as a social, economic and developmental challenge that must be addressed holistically, noted that such would count as part of the nation’s commitment towards the attainment of the United Nations Social Development Goals (UN-SDGs) and meeting the target of zero hunger in the country by 2030.”
He affirmed the commitment of the APC Governors would partner critical stakeholders like the Federal government, Civil Society Organizations as well as the private sector to initiate coordinated action to combat child nutrition.
The Co-chairman of the PGF Steering Committee called on all the Secretaries to APC State Governments to broaden and share understanding of the issues related to child nutrition in the respective APC States while deepening the scope of interventions that will bring beneficial outcomes.
He further challenged all the secretaries to APC state governments to examine current approaches and other global experiences and come up with practical and actionable plans that would assist the governments of APC states to fast track policy formulation and implementation, as well as the critical issues of resource mobilisation towards eradicating child malnutrition in the APC states.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government for the sustained support it has provided state governments since 2015 and called for the stronger partnership to develop common policy initiatives on promoting child nutrition in the country, particularly in these challenging times.
The committee recommended increased commitment and political will towards improving child nutrition in the APC states through enhancing resource mobilisation and incorporating in the annual budget, both nutrition-specific interventions and programmes and nutrition-sensitive programmes.
It advised the governors to engage concertedly with critical stakeholders to explore cross-sector opportunities for child nutrition interventions at all levels, as well as to develop and strengthen legislation, policies, strategies and action plans with measurable outcomes for nutritional and related interventions, including pregnant women, youth, and other vulnerable households.
The session also recommended workable plan and implement nutrition policy interventions and programmes that will be sustainable and resilient to the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated economic fallouts.