The Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) recently supported the Kaduna State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) on advocacy visits to twelve (12) nutrition line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Kaduna State to get commitments of the MDAs to scale up nutrition in the state. The MDAs visited are:
- The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
- Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KADRUWASSA).
- Kaduna state Agricultural Development Agency (KADA)
- The State Ministry of Finance (MoF)
- The Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission (KSPBC)
- The State Ministry of Health (SMoH)
- The State Ministry of Education (SMoE)
- Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services & Social Development (KSMHSSD)
- The State Ministry of Agriculture (SMoA)
- The State Primary Health Care Development Board (SPHCDB)
- The State Ministry of Local Government Affairs (SMLGA)
- The Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC).
The visits to the MDAs were aimed at:
i) advocating for budgetary provision for nutrition activities, timely releases and cash backing of approved funds
ii) requesting for inclusion of the State’s Nutrition Officer in the State’s emergency response team.
iii) calling for prioritization of nutrition in the state
iv) asking for designated trained nutritionists as nutrition desk officers in some of the MDAs.
Receiving the advocacy team at her office, The Accountant General of the state, Shizzer Bada, promised to prioritize funding for nutrition interventions in the state. She said “I’m sure you have gone round states, right? You know the challenges. I am a mother. I have worked in the Humnitarian field before. I have seen children starving. Whatever I can do to make sure that our children are well fed and well taken care of, I will do it. That is why I will support the nutrition programmes and the school feeding programme in Kaduna. That is why I prioritize those payments. Please be assured of my support 100%”.
On his part, The Executive Secretary of the SPHCDB, Dr. Hamza Abubakar, while receiving the team said the board will recruit more nutritionists in Primary Healthcare Centers in the state. This, he said will enable the officers to better engage parents and caregivers on where and how to access specific foods that will provide the needed nutrients to their children. Abubakar added that this will further contribute to improving preventive measures for malnutrition, a key strategy of the state government in addressing malnutrition.
At the state’s Ministry of Health, the Commissioner, Dr Amina Baloni, revealed that the state government has approved a “coordination framework for nutrition’’ to check malnutrition in the state. She further stated that the State Executive Council approved the establishment of a Nutrition Unit in the Department of Public Health to support nutrition specific activities in the ministry.
Bolani disclosed these when she received the SFCN Advocacy team and opined that these were part of efforts to institutionalize and strengthen the SCFN as the Central coordinating point of nutrition activities in the state. Baloni, while commending the team, said the visit would strengthen the multi-sectoral response to malnutrition in the state. She, however, called for more attention on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) to prevent malnutrition.
In a related development, the Commissioner of KSMHSSD, Hajiya Hasfat Mohammed Baba pledged to appoint a Nutrition Desk Officer for effective coordination of nutrition activities in the Ministry. According to her “Nutrition is key to the proper development of children; my ministry will partner with other stakeholders to tackle malnutrition in the state. We will work with the Planning and Budget Commission (KSPBC) to create a budget line for nutrition activities that will be specifically designed to prevent malnutrition among women and children”.
Some key outcomes from the visits to the MDAs are commitments from some commissioners to:
i)create nutrition budget line for nutrition activities
ii) designate passionate and dedicated Nutrition Desk Officers in the MDAs
iii) ensure timely cash backing and releases through raising Memos specific to nutrition
iv) sustain working relationship and partnership with CS-SUNN
CS-SUNN hopes to, in the coming months, follow-up on the status of designated desk officers, prompt submission of memos for release of nutrition funds to implement nutrition activities by the nutrition line MDAs among others to ensure that these commitments are fulfilled.