Dialogues On Reducing Hunger, Diseases Must Reflect Our Situations, Says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, gives a speech virtually [File Photo]

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, believes the conversations in Nigeria and other developing countries must be all-inclusive and reflective of the situations that concern the people in order to tackle hunger and reduce diseases.

As the global community mobilises resources towards addressing the threats, he explained that such conversations were critical to ensure meaningful progress towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

“I think that some of these issues are nuanced and we really need to take a closer look, especially at these dialogues so that our conversations are reflective of the issues that concern us as a nation, as a people, and especially as a developing country,” Professor Osinbajo stated at a virtual dialogue on the Nigeria Food System held on Tuesday.

Underscoring the point about the accessibility of the dialogues, he emphasised the importance of having an open conversation.

The vice president said, “We have to take all of these issues into account, especially because we are debating issues in the international community, we are contributing to a global conversation and it is so important that the nuances of our own society and situation are introduced into this conversation so that the conversation is richer and fairer and more just for our people.”

“I think we must also make it clear that this summit is about the entire value chain from farm to table and all that is in between, including retailers, food processors, technology providers and financial institutions.”

“All of these sectors are involved in the chain and so they are relevant in this summit, and all of their views have to be brought to the table.

“All of these shows the interrelatedness and we need to demonstrate this to show the interrelatedness of each part of the chain and how the weak links affect all, else this will be an important consideration in making this dialogue as accessible and inclusive as possible,” he added.

Poverty Has Deepened

Highlighting the significance of the summit, Professor Osinbajo was confident that it would address some of the fundamental challenges facing Nigeria, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19.

According to him, the issue of developing a sustainable food system has never been more urgent and more existential for Nigeria, perhaps more so than in many other countries.

“Why? We are faced with population growth that exceeds growth figures handsomely. Poverty has deepened, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation.

“So, it is a significant challenge to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required in modernisation of farming practices, mechanisation, and reduction of postharvest losses,” the vice president explained.

He noted that there were also questions around ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, as well as building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems.

“These issues require expertise and experience but also the views of those who will be at the receiving end of these plans. In other words, at these dialogues, we don’t just want to hear only the experts, we want to hear those who are at the receiving end – those for whom all of these plans are being made. The people across all strata of society,” the vice president stated.

He added, “The food we produce and eat, how we produce and eat, should be environmentally friendly and not destroy the environment for future generations. That seems simple enough.

“Aside from the inherent difficulties of recommending dietary changes, which is habit-forming and for most people, there are tough questions about what practices make sense in a high-income country and what will make sense in developing countries.”

Professor Osinbajo commended the organisers of the summit for their efforts, saying the outcome of the dialogue would be of great consequence because it would determine the shape of the future.

The dialogue was organised by the United Nations to raise global awareness and shape global commitments towards mobilising food systems to address hunger, reduce diet-related diseases, and strengthen plenary health.

Those present at the meeting included the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; and the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba.

Others were the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, and the National Convener of the summit, Mrs Olusola Idowu, among others.

FG Approves Five-Year Plan To Reduce Hunger

File photo of Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

 

The federal government has approved a five-year nutrition action plan that will help to reduce hunger and malnutrition across the country, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

This was revealed in a statement by the spokesman to the Vice President, Laolu Akande.

The plan was approved by the National Council on Nutrition, which is chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

Other members of the Council include Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Health Minister, Minister of Water Resources, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, development partners, organized private sector, Civil Society Organisations, the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido, among others.

Titled the “National Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (NMPFAN) 2021-2025”, the plan will guide the implementation of interventions and programmes to address the problems of hunger and malnutrition across all sectors in Nigeria.

“The approved plan will reduce the proportion of people who suffer malnutrition by 50%; increase exclusive breastfeeding rate to 65%,” the statement said. “It will also reduce stunting rate among under-five year olds to 18% by 2025 through the scaling up of priority high impact nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions.

“The plan recommends the adoption and implementation of strategies aimed at improving the nutritional status of Nigerians by tackling under nutrition and stunting, among others.”

The Vice President also welcomed suggestions for the adoption of extensive nutrition advocacy programmes to be driven by stakeholders across all levels of government and the private sector.

Offering the support of State governors in the actualization of the plan, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Mr Kayode Fayemi, said his colleagues endorse the plan.

While commending the personal commitment of Vice President Osinbajo to the issue of nutrition in the country, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido, said the same commitment will need to be demonstrated in the States, noting that taking the advocacy campaign to the State governors will be a crucial part of ending malnutrition in the country.

The former Emir of Kano said that it was time to take nutrition issues more seriously.

On their part, stakeholders present at the virtual meeting, where the plan was approved, pledged their support for the implementation of the action plan aimed at addressing the menace of malnutrition in Nigeria.

Development partners, and the organised private sector, represented by Mr Diego Moroso of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Ms Zouera Youssoufou of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, respectively, said the adoption of the plan was commendable, calling for a holistic approach in order to address fundamental issues in the food system.

Other presentations made to Council include, the National Food Consumption and Micro-Nutrient Survey 2021, the Food System Summit 2021 and the presentation on Nutrition for Growth Summit, by the Secretary, National Committee on Food and Nutrition, Mrs Chito Nelson.

WFP Warns 2.2 Million More Syrians Risk Hunger

 

 

Around 2.2 million Syrians risk joining the fast swelling ranks of the hungry and poor in war-torn Syria, the World Food Programme warned Monday.

“Without urgent help 2.2 million more could slip further into hunger and poverty,” WFP said in a statement on Twitter.

The UN agency said in May that a record 9.3 million people in Syria were food insecure, as spiralling prices and the novel coronavirus pandemic compound the damage of the country’s nine-year war.

That figure had leapt from 7.9 million six months earlier.

Most of Syria’s population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations, and food prices have doubled over the past year.

In that same period, Syrians in government-held areas have faced a fuel crisis, a plummeting Syrian pound on the black market and steep price hikes.

Damascus has blamed Western sanctions for its struggling economy.

But analysts have pointed to other factors, including a financial crisis in neighbouring Lebanon, long a conduit for dollars to Damascus-held areas under sanctions.

The conflict has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions more from their homes since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

AFP

World Hunger Worsening As COVID-19 Weighs, Obesity Rises – UN

A photo of the United Nations emblem
A photo of the United Nations emblem

 

Nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year, according to a United Nations report published on Monday.

Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.

“After decades of a long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.

Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.

Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.

That number rose by 10 million people in just one year to 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, found the study, which said eradicating hunger by 2030 – a goal set five years ago – will be impossible if trends continue.

By 2030, over 890 million people could be affected by hunger or 9.8 percent of the world’s population, it estimated and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the report estimated that over 820 million people were going hungry, but estimates were recalculated following revised data from China for prior years.

– More undernourished people –
When measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number balloons from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit hard in nations with widespread poverty, could cause another 83 to 132 million people to become undernourished this year, the report said.

Global trends had already been worsening before coronavirus, it said.

About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030 from 19.1 percent today, already twice the world average.

In Asia, the number of hungry people fell by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent remains home to more than half the world’s undernourished people.

Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are worsening, with 9 million more hungry people last year than in 2015.

– Too expensive –
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is that they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets,” found the report.

In all regions, adult obesity is on the rise, with healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods unaffordable to some 3 billion people.

Over 57 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot afford a healthy diet.

Low-income countries rely on starchy staples like cereals and tubers that can cost 60 percent less than healthy diets but lack necessary proteins and key vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and ward off disease.

The report found 21.3 percent of children under five, or 144 million, experienced stunted growth due to malnutrition, most of them in Africa or Asia.

Another 6.9 percent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 percent were overweight.

Of the overweight children, 45 percent come from Asia, and 24 percent from Africa, underscoring how malnutrition takes the form of both undernutrition and obesity.

Current patterns in food consumption are estimated to result in health costs of over $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

But healthier diets could lower those costs by up to 97 percent, the report estimated, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $100 million.

Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by today’s food production system which could also be reduced by alternative diets.

While acknowledging high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to domestic subsidies that favor staples, the report called an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives.”

Pandemic Puts Up To 86 Million Children At Risk Of Poverty – Study

Children sit on the ground as they hold their containers filled with porridge received during a breakfast distribution for children by the non-profit organisation and charity group “Hunger has no Religion”, at an underprivileged area, in Westbury suburb, in Johannesburg, on May 23, 2020.

 

The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could push as many as 86 million more children into poverty by the end of 2020, a joint study by Save the Children and UNICEF showed Wednesday.

That would bring the total number of children affected by poverty worldwide to 672 million, an increase of 15 per cent over last year, the two aid agencies said in a statement.

Nearly two-thirds of those children overall live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

But the pandemic-driven increase is expected to occur mainly in Europe and Central Asia, according to the study, which is based on World Bank and International Monetary Fund projections and population data from some 100 countries.

“The scale and depth of financial hardship among families threatens to roll back years of progress in reducing child poverty and to leave children deprived of essential services,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore is quoted as saying in the statement.

With immediate and decisive action, “we can prevent and contain the pandemic threat facing the poorest countries and some of the most vulnerable children,” added Save the Children head Inger Ashing.

They are “highly vulnerable to even short periods of hunger and malnutrition — potentially affecting them for their whole life,” she warns in the statement.

The two organizations call on governments to rapidly expand their social security systems and school feeding to limit the effects of the pandemic.

When People Talk About Hunger In Nigeria, ‘I Just Laugh’ – Agric Minister

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono on Monday said there is no hunger in Nigeria and the nation has enough food to feed itself.

Nanono, who disclosed this while addressing journalists on the occasion of the World Food Day in Abuja, said he is always amused when he hears people complaining of hunger in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Senate Asks FG To Declare Emergency On Federal Roads

“I think so long as these bordering countries do not respect our protocols on these very important issues of bringing food into Nigeria, border closure will remain.

“I think we are producing enough to feed ourselves. I think there is no hunger in Nigeria; there could be inconveniences. When people talk about hunger in this country, I just laugh because they don’t know hunger.

“You need to go to some other countries to know what hunger is.

“If you say I miss my breakfast and I get lunch and dinner, then that is all right… part of the problem of overweight is not necessarily the issue of a balanced diet, but some of us stay put without knowing that Nigeria used to be a former zone for migration in sub-Sahara Africa,” he said.

According to Mr Nanono, the policy of the government is to produce and feed ourselves and in the process, create the process to empower people.

The Minister also predicted that Nigerian farmers would witness bumper harvest this year, regardless of the flood that ravaged some states.

He also gave assurance that Nigeria would be self-sufficient in food production and even export food to other countries in no distant time.

Hunger On The Rise Worldwide, 821 Million Affected, Says UN

 

More than 821 million people suffered from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide last year, the United Nations reported Monday — the third year in a row that the number has risen.

After decades of decline, food insecurity began to increase in 2015 and reversing the trend is one of the 2030 targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

But getting to a world where no one is suffering from hunger by then remains an “immense challenge,” the report said.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” was produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other UN agencies including the World Health Organization.

“To safeguard food security and nutrition, it is critical to already have in place economic and social policies to counteract the effects of adverse economic cycles when they arrive, while avoiding cuts in essential services, such as health care and education, at all costs,” it said.

The authors said a “structural transformation” was needed to include the poorest people in the world, a move they said would require “integrating food security and nutrition concerns into poverty reduction efforts” while tackling gender inequality and the exclusion of certain social groups.

Malnutrition remains widespread in Africa, where around 20 percent of the population is affected, and in Asia where more than 12 of people experience it. In Latin America and the Caribbean, seven percent of people are affected.

Adding the number of people suffering from famine to those hit by food insecurity gives a total of more than two billion.

The FAO said current efforts were insufficient to meet the goal of halving the number of children whose growth is stunted by malnutrition by 2030.

Around 149 million children currently suffer from hunger-related growth delays.

At the same time, the report notes that obesity and excess weight are both on the rise in all regions, with school-age children and adults particularly affected.

AFP

Jigawa Lawmakers Disagree Over Deduction Of N5m To Fight Hunger

File Photo

 

Lawmakers in Jigawa State have disagreed over the deduction of five million naira from their Constituency Project Fund to support children suffering from malnutrition.

The lawmakers entered into a heated debate on Friday when the Executive Secretary of the Primary Health Care Management Board, Dr Kabir Ibrahim, was presenting a communique at the end of a two-day workshop organized by UNICEF, with the theme: The Role of Lawmakers in the Implementation of Jigawa State Nutrition Agenda.

The lawmaker representing Kanya Constituency, Mr Usman Haladu, first kicked against the idea when it was read by the Executive Secretary, saying that more deliberations are needed in order for the matter to be concluded.

Another lawmaker, Mr Abubakar Muhammad, representing Hadejia Constituency also argued that there are some modalities to be considered before it can be presented in the communique.

At the end of day, the statement was highlighted in yellow, to show that the issue would later be finalised.

Jigawa is one of the states in the country with the highest cases of children suffering from malnutrition with 54 per cent of the children in the state reported to be having stunted growth.

Flooding Now A ‘Major Emergency’ In Nigeria, Says Red Cross

 

The Red Cross says Nigeria is facing a “major emergency” with tens of thousands of people displaced by recent flooding at risk of hunger and disease if help does not get to them as soon as possible.

“Many of the 200,000 people who fled flood waters are now leaving displacement camps but some of them are finding nothing but destroyed homes and farmland”, Secretary General for the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Abubakar Kende, said in a statement on Thursday.

Some 200 people died in floods across 12 states after the rivers Niger and Benue burst their banks earlier this year.

“The world is ignoring a major humanitarian crisis. Nearly two million people have been affected by this flooding disaster… This is a major emergency,” the Red Cross said.

“If the world continues to ignore the humanitarian needs created by this flood disaster, the consequences are likely to be far-reaching,” it added.

It said unless concerted action was taken, the story of loss and death will be repeated.

“Research shows that the impact of climate change combined with rapid population growth in Nigeria’s fast-growing cities will increase the risk of disasters. We know that Nigeria will continue to face devastating floods like this at an ever-increasing rate.”

The humanitarian agency said although flood waters had receded, another crisis looms large.

“The worst-affected communities rely solely on agriculture as a source of food and income. With no crops expected from the flooded lands for months, thousands are facing the threat of hunger which is one of the causes of vulnerability to diseases,” it added.

The nation suffered one of its worst flooding disasters in 2012 when hundreds of people lost their lives and about two million were left homeless in 30 of the 36 states.

Threat Of Malnutrition Still High In Somalia – UN

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As PresidentHunger in Somalia has doubled the number of children admitted at nutritional centres supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) even with the onset of the rainy season.

In Baidoa town, this nutritional centre is one of few facilities where malnourished children below five years of age can access treatment in south and central Somalia.

Baidoa hospital which hosts the nutritional clinic has recorded an increase in patients, which has stretched the hospital’s capacity far beyond its 150-bed limit.
Tents have been put up to accommodate more patients.

The centre has now admitted 230 children compared to the 100 children admitted the same time, last year.

Dominik Stillhart, the ICRC director of operations worldwide was recently in the country visiting facilities supported by the organisation.

“What we saw in the two nutrition centres that we are supporting in Kismayo and in Baidoa, is nearly double the number of children that have been admitted to these two centres, which is clearly the result of the severe food crisis that is currently affecting Somalia,” said Stillhart.

“I have a lot of pictures of children when they come in with very severe malnutrition, be it marasmus or kwashiorkor and the photos after that. The parents usually say; when we brought this child here he was dying,” said Suuldano, the nutrition centre supervisor at Baidoa Regional Hospital.

Suuldano, the nutrition centre supervisor at Baidoa Regional Hospital.

Across the country, the number of malnourished children at its stabilisation centres and those run by the Somali Red Crescent Society has shot up 80 percent, to 12,710.

Uncertainty about sufficient rainfall during the current Gu season (April – May) has raised fears that the effects of the drought will persist and the risk of the situation deteriorating further remains very real.

The rains began in parts of the country in the second week of April and have since spread to most areas. The rains will allow farmers to plant crops as well as grass for the livestock that sustain Somalia’s nomadic families, although the long drought has already wiped out livestock herds and forced many farmers to seek aid in cities.

In addition to food shortages, Somalia is experiencing a rapid spread of cholera, with more than 20,000 cases reported nationwide. The outbreak is expected to worsen due to the rainy season.

Six years ago, a devastating famine in the country led to the death of over a quarter million people, half of them children.

Half of the country’s 12 million citizens are expected to need aid by July according to agencies.

“We are aiming together at reaching up to 7 million people until the end of this year and we have an appeal for roughly 600,000,000 Swiss francs from our donors,” said Stillhart.”

Food shortages are worsened by fighting in some areas occupied by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants. But unlike in 2011, when al Shabaab’s restrictions on movement and its refusal to allow many aid groups access pushed up the death toll, the group is allowing people to move.

Save Nigerians From Hunger – Fayose Tells Buhari

Road Construction, Fayose,
Mr. Fayose says FG should immediately ameliorate the poverty rate in Nigeria.

The governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose says the APC-led administration is losing focus as it should first save Nigerians from the pangs of hunger and reduce the poverty that pervades the land.

Governor Fayose who said this in a statement released on Tuesday in Ado Ekiti, added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government should concentrate on delivering the social welfare programme it promised Nigerians instead of coming after him.

“This project ‘Fayose must be implicated at all cost’ will definitely not put food on the tables of Nigerians and for all I care, the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission and its collaborators can keep running from pillar to post while I keep delivering good governance to Ekiti and its people.” He said.

‘I got no Kobo from Obanikoro’

The governor also dismissed claims that former Minister of
State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro confessed to the EFCC
that he received funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser
under retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki to fund his election.

“We have gone pass this stage of media trial, EFCC should rather keep its
gun powder dry, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.

They said more than this in the 2006 poultry scam blackmail, despite that, I am
the governor today.” He said.

According to the statement signed by his Special Assistant on Public
Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said he
is reacting to these allegations to fulfill all righteousness.

He said “those who arranged the dramatic and compromised return of Senator
Obanikoro to Nigeria obviously did so in continuation of their project
‘Fayose must be implicated at all cost’ but I am not bothered because
my election was legitimately funded.”

A Challenge to EFCC

The governor also challenged the EFCC to probe the funding of the APC during the last general elections.

Governor Fayose said; “Since we are now in the era in which financial assistance from Nigerians to fund elections is being criminalised, the international community, especially those funding EFCC must insist that the commission probes the funding of APC elections before further funds are released to the commission.”

African Nations Increase Farm Spending, Winning Poverty Battle

President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of four African nations this week, all of which are cited in a new report for effectively increasing spending on agriculture to combat extreme poverty and hunger.

The report by the ONE Campaign, an anti-poverty group co-founded by Irish rockers Bono and Bob Geldof, said Senegal, Malawi, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone either met or were close to meeting targets for increased budget spending on agriculture.

All of the countries, except Cape Verde where there is little data, are also on track or close to meeting a U.N. target of halving extreme poverty by 2015, the report said.

The African leaders will visit the White House on Thursday to showcase their fledgling democracies, but also their potential in a region where strong economic policies are attracting increased investment.

A recent World Bank report said Africa’s agricultural sector could become a $1 trillion industry by 2030 if farmers modernized their practices and had better access to financing, new technology, irrigation and fertilizers.

“Despite record improvements by select African countries, Africa overall is still far from realizing its agricultural potential,” said the ONE Campaign report, which assessed progress by 19 African countries and donors that send them aid.

“For African governments, donors and the private sector alike, 2013 is the year to deliver on these building blocks that impact farming and expand economic opportunities for farmers,” the report said.

This year marks a decade since African governments committed to allocate 10 percent of national spending to boost agricultural production, reversing decades of under investment in the sector. The so-called Maputo commitments expire this year, giving world leaders the opportunity to lay out a bold new plan with targets, the report said.

According to ONE’s analysis, at least four of the 19 African countries analyzed – Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Malawi and Niger – met or exceeded the target of 10 percent total expenditure on agriculture. Senegal and Sierra Leone are close to the target.

Meanwhile, the laggards are Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana, which spend less than 2 percent of their budgets on agriculture.

The report also called on industrialized nations – the United States, France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany and Russia – to make good on their various funding promises to help African nations increase agricultural production.

The G8, which meets in June this year, has repeatedly promised to support Africa-led initiatives, yet G8 agriculture investment plans have only secured about half of their required financing, and many donors contribute only a small fraction of their agriculture aid to poor countries, the report said.

The report shows that European Union institutions, Canada and Germany increased their share of foreign assistance to agriculture, while Britain, Japan and France cut theirs.