Achieving zero hunger in Nigeria

By EMMANUEL OSADEBE

To get the nutrients that provide energy for the body’s activities, growth and other functions while keeping the immune system healthy, food is essential for a human being.

The United Nations Global Facts show that between 720 million and 811 million people worldwide went hungry in 2020, about 161 million more than in 2019; as many as 2.4 billion people, more than 30 percent of the world’s population, were moderately or severely food insecure and did not have regular access to sufficient food; and globally, 149.2 million children under the age of five, or 22.0 percent, suffered from dwarfism (low height for their age) in 2020.

These were some of the food and nutrition crises envisioned by United Nations member states when Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs, was adopted, which aims to end hunger and ensure that all people have access, especially the poor and those in vulnerable situations. situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by 2030.

In Nigeria, all indicators of malnutrition, child growth retardation, child wasting and infant mortality will make Nigeria rank 103 out of 121 countries by 2022 according to the Global Hunger Index. The index indicates that 12.7 percent of the Nigerian population is malnourished. , 31.5 percent of children under five are stunted and 6.5 percent of children under five are drunk. With 133 million Nigerians reported to be multidimensionally poor, without access to basic necessities such as food, education, quality healthcare, sanitation and nutrition, this means that 63 percent of Nigerians live within the extreme poverty line.

So what is Nigeria’s zero hunger policy and what strategies do we plan to create a hunger-free Nigeria in 2030 or at least 2060, when Nigeria will be a sovereign country for a hundred years? How is Nigeria coping with the effects of multiple global crises such as conflict, COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and growing inequality that converge to undermine global food security?

These are not questions for the federal government alone to answer; these are questions that urgently require sustainable commitments from all stakeholders in the zero hunger ecosystem – governments, private sector-led commitment to access to food and nonprofits to hold leaders accountable for zero hunger policies and provide food aid to the vulnerable communities.

To ensure that the 133 million multidimensionally poor Nigerians do not go to bed hungry every day, the government must quickly reduce the causes and root causes of hunger crisis, such as insecurity and conflict between herders and farmers in rural areas of Nigeria; and launching a national Zero Hunger policy and food security strategy at all levels of government – federal, state and local governments.

No doubt Nigeria has adopted a wide variety of policies and measures since the early 1970s, but such food policies have not been as effective as intended. Take a look at the federal government’s free school meals program: while the sound bite is good, the implementation can only be felt effectively by the intended beneficiaries if it is free of corruption and expanded to benefit more Nigerians in the poverty belt.

Such a policy plan should be specific on how to reduce the number of hungry households and reduce diet-related diseases by improving access to healthy food by 2030. There is so much that individuals and businesses can do, but government holds the key to ending structural poverty and inequality, particularly at the subnational level.

More importantly, the tool for achieving a sustainable solution to end hunger is to educate, empower and increase opportunity for all.

When one person, especially a girl child in a rural area, gets an education, it has a ripple effect that has far-reaching consequences for communities.

It will be difficult to lift those living in poverty out of poverty unless Nigeria provides unrestricted access to quality education.

Education, improved and mechanized agriculture, health care and access to finance in rural areas are critical resources that every country needs to break the cycle of poverty.

To achieve a sustainable outcome in this drive, Nigeria needs a disciplined deliberation in responsible, inclusive, humane, people-driven and transformational leadership at all levels and spheres of our society, including in traditional and religious spaces.

Collectively, we must make food an instrument of social resolution, both for the individual and for society. Since we cannot have food security without physical and environmental security, everyone must take their responsibility to ensure that poor and vulnerable Nigerians have access to quality food.

It is in line with this reasoning that the T200 Foundation provides life-saving food and nutrition assistance to people affected by social conflicts and people in need of food. We understand that to make change, we must invest in people, invest in their stomachs and invest in their smiles.

The T200 Foundation’s food intervention helps put smiles on the faces of hungry Nigerians. T200’s Feed the Hungry initiative aims to feed vulnerable groups in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT. The program that started on December 16, 2022 at Area 1 IDP camp has identified 7000 thousand people at EYA CAN Center Camp in Maiduguri who will be fed in January 2023.

But even as we work to reduce hunger to zero in Nigeria, we recognize that everyone needs to be involved in prioritizing initiatives that creatively eliminate hunger from our communities. It is important that everyone is involved, because a hungry nation is an angry nation. Zero hunger is possible, and we must make it happen.

Osadebay is the Executive Director of the T200 Foundation

The post Achieving Zero Hunger in Nigeria appeared first on Vanguard News.

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