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14.8% Enugu Children’s Growth Affected By Poor Nutrition – CSO

Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria has revealed that 14.8 per cent of under-five-year-old children in Enugu State are stunted, as a result of poor nutrition.

The group which disclosed this during a parley with journalists in Enugu said that the figure was contained the National Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2018, adding that from the survey 6.1 per cent are underweight, while 2.5 per cent are wasted.

Decrying the poor nutritional status of children in Enugu State,  CS-SUNN called on the government for improved funding of nutrition activities and promotion of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of newborns in the state.

CS-SUNN is a non-governmental organization, made up of coalition of civil society organisations, with a shared vision to transform Nigeria into a country where every citizen’s food and nutrition are secured.

The organisation opined that “this statistics translates to over 159,000 stunted children and over 24,000 wasted children in Enugu state.

In a statement issued at the end of the media parley, the group noted that “in Enugu State, there has been recurrent low funding of nutrition activities, and this has negatively impacted the efforts for implementing food and nutrition interventions in the state.”

The statement, signed by the state coordinator of CS-SUNN, Mr Finian Ali, advocated “increased investment in nutrition to scale-up quality nutrition services” in Enugu State.

He hinted that the fruitful programme she is implementing on nutrition is collaboration between UNICEF and CS-SUNN, aimed at realizing a vision of a Nigeria where every citizen has access to food and nutrition security.

It said, “The primary objective of this landmark project is to advocate for the extension of paid maternity leave from the current four months to six months, recognizing the pivotal role of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

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“This initiative aims to promote six months of exclusive breastfeeding.”

The CSO posited that the extended maternity leave will empower mothers, positively impact infant health, and foster healthier family dynamics.

The statement added further, “The second crucial objective is to ensure the timely release and effective utilization of allocated funds for nutrition programming in Enugu. This initiative is vital to support development partners’ efforts, enhancing overall nutrition outcomes and contributing to the state’s economic growth.”

The statement equally averred  that the “Enugu State Multi Sectoral Plan of Action on Food and Nutrition was developed in 2020 to guide, as well as inform strategic implementation of nutrition interventions in the state, providing a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to tackling the problem of malnutrition among women and children.”

Insisting that it is a key document to scale up nutrition in Enugu, if implemented, the statement noted that though CS-SUNN is working in collaboration with other local and international NGOs, there’s need for every stakeholder, such as the government, media, private sector and other NGOs to join hands to fight against malnutrition.

It therefore called on the Enugu State government to increase her budget for nutrition programmes as well as Maternity and Exclusive Breastfeeding protection through the extension of maternity leave to six months from the current four months in Enugu State.

CS-SUNN added that the media can support the fight via increased media coverage and visibility for nutrition related issues in Nigeria, while the private sector can contribute their quota by supporting policy implementation through the development of low cost, nutritious complementary foods and home fortification of staple foods and creation of office crèches.

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It also said that CSOs/NGOs can play their part by joining the advocacy for the implementation of maternal and child nutrition interventions, promote sustained community health education on nutrition, advocate for the implementation of six months maternity protection with pay and advocate for nutrition budget releases.

Ali explained that CS-SUNN is a non-governmental, non-profit making coalition, made up of organizations with a shared vision to transform Nigeria into a country where every citizen has food and nutrition is secured.

He said, “CS-SUNN pursues this lofty goal by engaging and mobilizing government, and non-state actors to advocate for relevant policy implementation, raise awareness, generate evidence, build capacity and stimulate communities to scale-up nutrition in Nigeria, with special focus on maternal and child nutrition.”

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