Executive Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday, November 4, 2016 approved a US $1-million emergency assistance grant to support the fight against malnutrition in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno.
The Nigerian Health Ministry had in June 2016 declared a nutrition emergency in Borno. The West and Central Africa Regional Food Security and Nutrition Working Group had called for urgent response by the international community in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
The AfDB intervention will strengthen the Government efforts with support from relief organisations such as UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the northeast region of the country.
The Bank’s support would focus on reducing mortality due to severe acute malnutrition among children under five years of age in Borno State by 46% and infant mortality by 20%. The specific objectives are to treat 11,468 children in Borno State with Ready to Use Therapeutic Food; provide 60,000 children aged 6-23 months in the affected areas with multiple micronutrient powder; and strengthen sector coordination and monitoring at state level to provide effective coordination of nutrition response.
The operation would involve community mobilization, capacity building, coordination and partnership (with international non-governmental organizations) as well as the strengthening of information management systems to achieve large coverage, quality service and high impact. These, in addition to monitoring and surveillance systems using quarterly surveys and mobile technology for real-time reporting and data collection.
“The nutrition sector in Nigeria estimates a burden of 296,601 cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Borno State in 2017. If these children are left untreated, it is envisaged that an estimated 59,320 would die. This intervention will augment efforts at attaining the target to reach 80% of the estimated SAM cases in the region by 2017,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina told the Board.
Nigeria is currently in economic recession which has stretched the Government’s capacity to address vulnerability. Over 2.5 million children under five years are severely malnourished across the country and are nine times more likely to die than their counterparts in developed countries. In the midst of these challenges, the humanitarian situation in the northeast of Nigeria continues to deteriorate, with an estimated 7 million people in need humanitarian assistance, while about 2.2 million people are internally displaced.
The conflict in the region continues to restrict farming and other income-earning activities due to insecurity. Children and residents in the rural parts are most affected and Internally Displaced Persons continue to be negatively impacted by the food and nutrition deficiencies.
According to the August 2016 “Cadre Harmonisé analysis” there are 4.4 million food-insecure people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, 3.2 million of them in Borno State alone. The conflict has affected the food and health supply systems and left the health sector with very limited health workers available to provide services.
This intervention is aligned with one of the operational priorities of the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy, 2013-2022, namely, governance and accountability, which is reiterated in two of the High 5s: Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.