ISMP and EU-ACT: Combating malnutrition through financial empowerment for women.

The International Society of Media in Public Health, (ISMPH) has attributed the growing malnutrition among under-five children in Nigeria to poverty, resulting from low earning capacities of the parents of these children, especially mothers.

Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo made this known while interacting with newsmen in Abuja at the 3-day training on production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer, where he also explained that the discovery has informed the decision to checkmate the role of poverty in driving malnutrition.

In a bid to tackle the problem of malnutrition by solving the poverty puzzle, ISMPH through support from the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, (EU-ACT) embarked on skill acquisition training for women in Barangoni, a community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).

Every morning of each day of the training, the women of Barangoni gather enthusiastically to learn how to convert materials they considered as waste into useful products that can be used in their homes, as well as sold to generate income for their households.

Read: How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

Among the materials used were groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, sawdust, starch or gum Arabic as binders and the binding machine which is the only tool that is not sourced from daily living.

The end products are Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer. Charcoal briquette is smokeless charcoal with same cooking time cooking gas – aside home use, it can be sold to generate income; similarly, the Organic Fertilizer can be used to improve crop yield for the women since Barangoni is an agrarian community.

Narrating how this knowledge can be helpful to the women, the Manager, Expedient Global Vision, Hassan Mustapha who is the lead trainer explained that process is less stressful and easy to understand.

Mustapha also revealed that one woman can make up to 3500 naira from every 30 kilogrammes of Charcoal briquettes she produces.

“We are here to train people, especially the females on how to gain from skill acquisition. We are training on two different ways on how to utilize their waste products to be wealth briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

“Charcoal Briquette is formed from all things that we normally take as waste in our society like groundnut peels, rice chaffs, the sticks from corn cubs, sugarcane peels, and sawdust. These are some of the things that we merge together to make charcoal.

You carbonize them by removing the unused smoke from the original source, then you use the remaining part which is not allowed to burn into ashes. After you merge everything, you grind it so that it now becomes powder then you mix it with the binder, after which you now use the binder machine either automated or manual. The product is left to dry before packaging.

“The charcoal briquette helps to check deforestation because people won’t cut down trees again to make charcoal and can help generate foreign exchange for the country if it is invested in. It is simple to produce and use and it is smokeless, also fast in cooking like gas.

“So women can use it at home and also produce to sell making plenty of profit because the materials are sourced from around the community. If a woman produces a 30kg of charcoal briquette she can sell it for N3500.”

Read: Did you know that Nigeria has highest stunting figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

The first phase of the programme involves training of thirty women and there are plans to scale-up subsequently, says Programme Director at ISMPH, Solomon Dogo.

Off-takers have already been engaged to buy off these products, as soon as the women are done with production, as availability of market will drive production.

“The programme aims to see how we can curb malnutrition in the FCT by training and empowering women on how to produce organic fertiliser and other products so that they can have a means of survival because we have noticed that one of the problems causing malnutrition is poverty.

“Most of them do not have the means to take care of their nutritional needs so we decided that look, we’re going to train women – poorest of the poorest – and women who their children are malnourished.

“We also have off-takers who will be buying the products immediately they produce and we will also avail them the opportunity to market these products on radio stations and television stations.”

For the Chief of Barangoni Community, Danlami Nana, the initiative is noble and needs to be sustained.

“This training that they are doing for my people – I’m happy because when I saw this lady and she came to my place, introduced herself and told me that she will invite my people to come and get this training, I’m happy. Whereby that I am happy with my people is that they came out to come and receive this training on liquid fertiliser and also the other things.

Read: IHVN’s ANRiN programme improving nutrition in Kano state.

“This Barangoni we will benefit it, because I have already said that we are the farmers and when we farm something the thing will germinate – it will not grow quickly because it does not have fertiliser – but if community members are trained like this we will not have to go to any company to buy fertilizer again.”

It is hoped that the Initiative by EU-ACT and ISMPH will empower women financially so that they can give their children improved diets to help eliminate malnutrition.

Child poverty

Multidimensional Child Poverty: 54% of Nigerian children face nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, among other deprivations

The Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis using Multidimensional Overlapping Deprivation Analysis approach has revealed that approximately 54% of children in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor, by facing at least three deprivations across seven dimensions of child rights including nutrition, healthcare, education, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and information – a statement from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.

The Situation Analysis indicates that child poverty rate is highest among children aged 16– 17 years and least among children aged 0–5 years, noting that children are most affected by poverty because they are vulnerable, and that poverty has long-term impacts on the well-being of children, even into adulthood.

According to the statement, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo today launched three reports: “The Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria, the Multidimensional Child Poverty Analysis in Nigeria and Monetary Child Poverty in Nigeria prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with UNICEF.

Read: Did you know that child marriage fuels insecurity and poor health indices in Nigeria?

It was explained that multidimensional poverty in children is more prevalent in rural settings with 65.7 %, than urban areas with 28.4 %; meanwhile there are also high state disparities ranging from 14.5 % in Lagos to 81.5 % in Sokoto.

The monetary child poverty report showed that 47.4 % of children face monetary poverty by living in households with expenditure less than 376 naira five kobo a day being the national poverty line; as Slight differences are observed between boys placed at 47.98 % and girls at 46.8 %, while there are also high geographical and state disparities from 6.5% in Lagos to 91.4% in Sokoto.

The report further posited that 24.56% of children i Nigeria, face extreme poverty by living in households that spend less than 1.90 dollars a day.

The analysis indicated that the country would need as roughly as 1 trillion naira to lift children out of poverty.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said that data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and that the data from the surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria has a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle.

Hawkins also said an analysis of the reports indicates the need for improved social protection measures to ensure that children are protected from risks, along with an expansion of access to much-needed social services.

“Data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

“We still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children and families in Nigeria, with persistent multi-dimensional poverty being a crucial obstacle. The findings of these reports will help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets – providing evidence for where more funds need to be allocated and wisely spent.”


IHVN’s ANRiN programme improving nutrition in Kano state.

Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, (IHVN) says its Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project is yielding positive results with beneficiaries testifying of its impact.

Fatima Sulaiman is one of the beneficiaries of the ANRiN
project, in Kumbotso Local Government Area in Kano State. IHVN is increasing access and utilization of basic nutrition services for children under five years in Kumbotso and eight other local government areas in Kano state.
50-year-old Hauwa’u Sulaiman, grandmother of Fatima, was quoted as saying, “Fatima is eating well and healthy, I am happy that she is strong, thank you for your support,” as she held her granddaughter on her laps.

“When Fatima’s mother wanted to wean her, she brought her to me. At the time, Fatima was not feeding well. She was looking ill and weak. Though she was a year old, she could barely walk. Her legs were weak,” Hauwa’u narrated in Hausa language.
According to a news article sent to our correspondent by the the IHVN, Sulaiman’s experience as narrated above was about that time that community volunteers from the IHVN ANRiN project came to their neighborhood to counsel them about nutrition for pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls and children.
Hauwa’u added that “They also gave me Vitamin A and deworming tablets, Zinc/ Oral Rehydration Solution for Fatima.” The drugs and the nutrition education received empowered Hauwa’u to take better care of her granddaughter and the improvements were obvious for all to see.
She also said, “Some neighbors were hesitant to take the medicines; now they can see their benefit. It helps a child feed better. I advise others to use these medicines given to us free from the ANRiN project.” Fatima now likes to take fresh cow milk, which is easily accessible as her grandmother rears and sells sheeps and goats.

Nutrition Focal Person for Kumbotso Local Government Area, Amina Gambo, explained that the project has been beneficial for Kumbotso indigenes, “They always appreciate the program because the medicines are free and volunteers bring it to their doorsteps. Malnutrition retards the growth of children. They become stunted and any child who is stunted will not meet the expected growth of his or her age group.”
Mother of threeZinatu Musa, another beneficiary of the basic nutrition services from the ANRiN project in Bunkure Local Government Area, said she received iron and folic acid tablets as well as Vitamin A and Albendazole for her children.

Read: Nutrition: Bauchi, Kebbi & Sokoto get $9.5 million from USAID

“When I was pregnant, I had the problem of not feeding and eating well and I also had low blood pressure. I was told to take the medicines in the morning after I have eaten well. It made me stronger and improved my appetite.
“My blood pressure came back to normal too. I am encouraging my friends who are pregnant to take these medicines. One of my children was always complaining of stomach pain but after he was given this Albendazole, he stopped complaining of stomach pains. Now he can eat food well and is healthy.”
IHVN ANRiN Project Chief of Party, Dr Temitope Kolade, said that more women and children are reached daily in the community through the World Bank funded project.
“We work with community-based organizations and community volunteers in Nasarawa, Kano Municipal, Fagge, Gwale, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Dala, Bunkure and Wudil Local Government Areas to provide basic nutrition services. Because the community volunteers are familiar with the neighborhoods, they go house to house to identify eligible women and children. Then, they give them the services.

“IHVN routinely conducts bimonthly town hall meetings and community outreaches as an avenue for engaging with community leaders and gatekeepers in all nine supported LGAs. This has helped improve acceptance rate for the services provided and it also serves as a forum for receiving feedback from the community which has helped improve the quality of services provided.”
IHVN Kano State ANRiN Project Director, Dr Ishaya Madaki, added that the services given are; “counseling for mothers/care-givers of children 0-23 months of age on improved behaviors related to maternal, infant and young child feeding. The project provides fifteen sachets of micronutrient powders bi-monthly for children 6-23 months and iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets for pregnant women.”
Dr Madaki explained that the Institute also gives intermittent preventive treatment for malaria during ante-natal care, distributes zinc and oral rehydration solution and gives Vitamin A and semiannual deworming.”

Kano State is among the Nigerian states with the highest burden of malnutrition. The 2018 National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) gives the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition for Kano as 6.8% and the prevalence of underweight children as 26.9%.
IHVN started offering these nutrition services after being chosen as a Non-State Actor (NSA) to support the Kano State Government in May 2021. As at December 2021, IHVN has provided 239,304 women and 536,065 children with nutrition services through the ANRiN project.


How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

A good number of children in Barangoni community, a suburb in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and stunting.

This was noticed when a non-government organization, the International Society of Media in Public Health, ISMPH, took journalists on a field visit to the community as part of its European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, EU-ACT, Project.

READ: Did you know that Nigeria has highest malnutrition figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

The EU-Act Project which is operational in Bwari and Kwali Area Councils of the FCT is a nutrition centered project that seeks to empower women to ensure sustainability in the provision of good nutrition for families.

Baragoni is a community that is far flung from the bubbly town of Bwari and mostly inhabited by low income earners such as junior civil servants, petty traders and peasant farmers.

A walk through the community shows poor sanitation and hygiene practices as waste water could be seen flowing right through compounds with attendant flies and bad smell.

Gathered at the chief’s palace were women numbering close to fifty, all carrying children under-five years, showing various forms of malnutrition.

Halima is eight months old, very tiny, always crying, looking weak and the hair on her head almost falling off. She is said to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Halima’s mother died just immediately after giving birth to her, leaving Rabi Sule, her grandmother with the task of catering for nutrition needs but she could only do little, owing to the situation she found herself in.

Rabi spoke in Hausa and an interpreter related what she was saying.

“I lived in a community in Zamfara but had to leave to Barangoni because Zamfara is not well. My 20 years old daughter died immediately after giving birth to her second child in Zamfara.

“After her death, I have been responsible for taking care of the child. I have been breastfeeding the child and giving mild. I started giving only pap and breast because I don’t have money. From one month to three months it was milk and breast. We are just managing.

“I have seven children and with the two that my daughter left me with, they are now 9. My husband does small business and it has not been easy. As you can see, the baby is 8months yet looks like a 2 or 3 months old. If there is any way you can help, you should help.

“That is why I have come out here as they called me to come hoping to receive any help that I can get. It is not easy on my at all.”

Another woman in the community, Dorcas Gbatsaf is married to a secondary school teacher. Her child took ill and on visiting the hospital, she was told that the baby was suffering from malnutrition.

Gbatsaf said she was helpless because she had nothing doing, but expressed optimism that her lot will be better if she could be empowered with a skill to earn some income.

“My baby was sick and the problem is, she was not eating, her feeding was very bad, that is what the doctor told me. She is 11 months. She was not eating anything; anyone I give her she will not eat. I will now force her with akamu, after taking it she will vomit it.

“I am very happy for this meeting because I need something doing. I wish I had something doing, all these things that are happening to me and my children, not feeding well, with my children, things wouldn’t have been like that. Because I wish I had money with me, I will introduce my baby with this one, if the baby refuses to eat this one, I will now try another one. But since there is no money with me, I don’t have any other thing to do than to sit down and look at her.”

The Programme Officer on the EU-ACT project, Bukola Smith explained that ISMP believes in the need to tackle malnutrition sustainably, hence the decision to train and empower mothers of malnourished children to boost their capacity to earn and provide for their children.

“So we intend to empower mothers of malnourished children. The idea is to look at a sustainable solution to the issue of severe acute malnutrition. And while Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) is very effective, in a long term there is such limited supply.

“And so we have to think in bigger terms. What this programmes intends to achieve is to identify mothers of severely malnourished children and then empower them, give them skills, a means to make even greater income. And we are hoping to see how that transforms into providing better feeding for their children. And so we think it is a more sustainable solution.”

As the saying goes, if you want to empower an individual, empower a man, but when you want to empower a community, empower a woman; it is therefore hoped that the EU-ACT project of ISMPH, will improve nutrition in families of Barangoni community.

Did you know that Nigeria has highest stunting figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world

Did you know that Nigeria has highest stunting figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

Governments at all levels have been called upon to establish an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information Systems to better support policy development, programmes design and monitoring.

Trends from the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, show that prevalence of stunting in Nigeria was 42% in 2003, 41% in 2008, 37% in 2013 and 2018.

As a result, Nigeria has been listed as the country with the highest number of stunted children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa and the second highest in the world, making nutrition significant public health problem in Nigeria.

Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo who made the call in Abuja at a media roundtable on Reset Nutrition for Human Capital Development in Nigeria noted that establishing an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information System will be a fulfillment of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition that enhances availability and use of routine nutrition data.

Represented by the Communications Officer at CS-SUNN, Lilian Okafor, Okoronkwo said the call became necessary following evidence that data management systems are weak at both the national and sub-national levels.

Poor response to treatment when ill, mild to serious learning disabilities, under performance at workplace are some of the challenges that malnutrition poses to growing children, says Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo.

To address the negative impacts of severe acute malnutrition, SAM, and stunting on individual and national productivity, Okonkwo called for admonished governments at all levels to, among other steps, institute innovative ways of financing nutrition programmes, including increased domestic funding.

“CS-SUNN is calling on government to fund the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BCHPF) to improve funding of nutrition sensitive and specific interventions. BHCPF is a large-scale reform effort intended to increase resources for health and extend primary health care to all Nigerians, through the provision of a Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS).

“The BHCPF will give the country a leap forward in revitalizing and strengthening primary health care service delivery and achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage. Nutrition services are part of the BMPHS with Primary Health Centres being the closets point of access to health and nutrition services by the people. CS-SUNN states that for Nigeria to win the war against malnutrition, it must offer quality nutrition services in these facilities and get policymakers to prioritize nutritional interventions.

“Over the past 3 years, CS-SUNN efforts have contributed to increase in budgetary allocation for nutrition. However, allocations are still low and releases abysmal. Current investments in proven nutritional intervention are still inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem. CS-SUNN is therefore calling for innovative ways of financing nutrition programming at all levels including increase in domestic funding. New strategies to increase budgetary allocation and raise additional fund is critical to meeting Nigeria’s HCD ambition.

“Nigeria’s nutrition data management systems are weak both at the National and sub-national levels. key sources of nutrition data are Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS) which are complex undertakings that cannot be implemented at the required frequency needed for nutrition programming in Nigeria.

“Therefore, it is critical to establish an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information Systems as stipulated in the National Policy of Food and Nutrition that enhances availability and use of routine nutrition data to better support policy development, programme designs and monitoring.”

In a presentation entitled “Nutrition and Attaining Nigeria’s Human Capital Development Targets and Goals”, the Coordinator, Human Capital Development in Nigeria, Yosola Akinbi explained that the Development Core Working Group focuses on 3 thematic areas and 6 critical Human Capital Development outcomes.

Akinbi also emphasized on the importance of collective efforts by all government levels, private sector and individuals towards strengthening Nigeria’s Human Capital Development.

“Almost always in Nigeria, data is a problem but not just Nigeria but all over the world. So we want to improve the collection of data because otherwise, how do we measure when we say we want to be able to improve nutrition and reduce childhood stunting from 44% to 22%? How do we measure that if we don’t have the data?

“And we also know that funding is an issue. So in the project, we have a situation where by it is not just government funding. So with all these private sector we are always talking about CSR but they do things that they want. Let us get them and encourage them to have that CSR thing in line with what is needed in their community. Let it be demand driven.”

Everyone is urged to support government’s target of having additional 20 million all-round healthy under-five-years-old children in Nigeria by the year 2030.


RUTFs being used for rams fattening and special tea in Kano

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria CS-SUNN and Nutrition Consultant at Unicef, Dr. Omotola Davies; and the Programme Director at International Institute of Media in Public Health, Solomon Dogo have identified the spate of insecurity in Nigeria as worsening the malnutrition crisis in Nigeria.

Activities of bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists have continued to keep indigent Nigerians from farming which serves as their primary source of livelihood.

Speaking further, Dr. Omotola Davies also said the absence of an improved food system guide is impacting on the quality of food in Nigeria, as he expressed optimism that ideas submitted at the just concluded Food System Summit will yield a standard guide for the country.

“Incidentally we have just concluded the Food System Summit where we harvested contributions from almost 5000 different groups to buttress the fact that we actually need to do something about the issue of our diet, the issue of nutrition and how they affect, including the issue of environment.

“The Food Systems we used to operate that time and now is very fragmental and are still not very improved, it is too poor and people just eat what is available. And so, we have just reviewed the food system in Nigeria and Nigeria has come up with some framework that will transform the food system to be able to respond to the nutritional needs of Nigerians, all Nigerians irrespective of their gender, social standing etc.”

On his part, Solomon Dogo stressed the need to expedite local production of Ready-To-Use-Therapeutic-Foods, RUTF, which will enhance treatment of under-five children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition.

Dogo also lamented the attitude of Nigerians towards RUTFs, pointing out that Nigerians especially in the north are converting RUTFs for sundry unwholesome uses.

“Again one of the experiences we had is that in some of the states you find packets of RUTF that is supposed to be kept at the Primary Health Care facilities for treatment of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition, you find them being sold on the streets.

“For example in Kano, you find out that the Maishayis use it because they feel it is a nutritional supplement. If you want the tea that will make you fat, they will put RUTF because they believe it will solve that problem.

“In fact, the major investigations were done by the media that we supported for investigative reporting across five northern states and at the Federal. So there were a lot of stories, you know from some of the northern states where RUTFs are being sold on the streets, some even use it for their rams to fatten the rams. So it’s so bad and we as Nigerians, we need to wake up.”

Government was advised to commit more funds and ensure that the funds are timely released and utilized to tackle malnutrition in the country.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians we interviewed, corroborated the position of Omotola and Davies adding that food price control, tackling insecurity and robust private sector engagement as vital steps required to eliminate the challenge of malnutrition in Nigeria.

Oga Gabriel lamented that the rising insecurity has resulted in food scarcity, while the scarcity of food has made prices to go up, but worse of all is the fact that government has no effective price control mechanism to make food affordable.

“You cannot feed your children because you cannot go to the farm even if you are a farmer, you cannot attend to your farm because of insecurity and if you are a worker, the money is not sufficient and prices of food are skyrocketing. And so you cannot even afford enough food for your family.

“In those days they said you should eat three square meals but today you cannot do two square meals because there is no money, there is no food, our farmers cannot produce enough food for the country, and the government is not helping matters in the sense that no price control in the market.”

Also speaking, Bala Muhammed, expressed displeasure with the poor monitoring of food donations to indigent Nigerians often resulting in the diversion of food products by those in charge.

“The government cannot do it alone. we are having billionaires in Nigeria, what are they doing to check the issue of malnutrition especially in the North that is ravaged by insurgency and banditry?”

“Like somebody, you know I wouldn’t mention his name, he gave trailers of sugar, Indomie, you call them, but what happened, those people responsible with taking care of those items were the same people that diverted those stuffs given to them to distribute to the children and the food stuffs were found in the market being sold out. We have to learn to be our brothers’ keepers by ourselves.”

ISMPH however, emphasised commitment to work with the media through its ISMP-EU-ACT-SAM Project to draw attention to the problem of SAM.