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APC governors to domesticate child nutrition policy

The governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have resolved to domesticate policies on child nutrition, even they are also planning to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme in all the member states.

The Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Governance Programme Steering Committee revealed the plans in a communique released after it teleconference meeting.

The communique which was made available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja and signed by governors of Jigawa Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and his counterpart in Plateau Barr. Simon Lalong as co-chairmen, said framework for Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in all the state of the APC is presently before the consideration of PGF.

The communique said that the virtual meeting had in attendance Secretaries to the State Government of the progressive states, other representatives of the state governmens, and members of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee was however chaired by the co-chairman and the Plateau state governor, Solomon Lalong.

The meeting among other things also agreed to continually share information, ideas and knowledge through its quarterly meetings and the PGF Secretariat to promote synergy across the member States and facilitate greater cooperation for uniform/common policy initiatives geared towards sustainable development.

Part of the recommendations proposed by the meeting for consideration/implementation by the APC states include;

“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.

“Engage concertedly with critical stakeholders to explore cross-sectoral opportunities for child nutrition interventions at all levels.

“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.

“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.

“Take leadership and ownership in the coordination and strengthening of child nutrition programmes and interventions by ensuring appropriate synergy between Ministries, Agencies and Departments, Local Governments, Development Partners, the Civil Society Partners, and the Private Sector.

“Have a collective meeting with Development partners that would essentially focus on domestication of FG and PGF policies on child nutrition in each APC state.

“Enhance sensitisation, awareness, enlightenment, education, and other complementary activities, particularly at community levels on child nutrition and related issues.

“Encourage interactions with farmers and entrepreneurs along the value chain in the local communities to develop a better understanding of how to participate and increase knowledge of nutrition and food security, and related environmental factors (such as climate change).

“Explore ways to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme and make accountability part of its implementation in the APC States.

“Create a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on policies, implementation challenges and gaps as well as sustainability and also serve as a framework for peer learning, sharing of best practices and peer review amongst the APC states to ensure that they all are working collectively to align their nutrition policies with those of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

According to the release, Director Africa Practice, Synergos, Mr. Adewale Ajadi, while presenting the Keynote address on Issues and Challenges of Child Nutrition in the APC states identified challenges and dynamics of formulating and implementing child nutrition interventions in the country.

He also recognized that Covid-19 has further added more problems to the crisis of child nutrition in the country.

Earlier while declaring open the meeting, Governor Lalong highlighted the widespread crisis of child malnutrition among children under five years of age in Nigeria and the associated wasting, stunting, low cognitive ability among children, and the resultant low earning capabilities after they have become adults.

He said that the issue of malnutrition and undernourishment “is a social, economic and developmental challenge that must be addressed holistically, 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.

“COVID-19 pandemic has introduced entirely new dimensions to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond the children, also to include the adult population.”

He, however emphasised the determination of APC Governors to put the issue of child nutrition on the front burner and develop an enduring framework that will not only address the challenge of child nutrition within the shortest time possible but also ensure that access to food by all vulnerable households is reasonably guaranteed at all times.

“Call 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.

“Having welcomed participants and facilitators and applauded the PGF Secretariat for organising the teleconference despite the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, on behalf of the PGF, the Co-Chairman expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government for the sustained support it has provided State Governments since 2015 and called for stronger partnership to develop common policy initiatives on promoting child nutrition in the country, particularly in these challenging times.”

The PGF Co-Chairman also urged all the Secretaries to APC State Governments to examine current approaches and other global experiences and come up with practical and actionable plans that will 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.

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