United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) has raised the alarm over the stunting rate of children in Benue state, food basket of the nation, saying 283,727 children under five years of age, are malnourished and stunted.
Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Mrs. Juliet Chiluwe, disclosed this during the coordination meeting of all partners, stakeholders and ministries, departments and agencies on the implementation of food and nutrition programmed in Benue state, on Thursday.
Represented by the Nutrition Specialist, Ngozi Onuora, Chiluwe said of the 11 million malnourished children living in Nigeria representing 37 percent of all Nigerian children, Benue accounts for 21 percent.

She lamented the situation. “Benue State though the food basket of Nigeria alone has stunting rate of 21 percent representing 283,727 children under five years of age.”
She also disclosed that while “underweight prevalence is 13.6 percent, almost 1 out of 2 representing 43 percent children are denied the vital benefits of exclusive breastfeeding within the first six months of life in Benue state.
The meeting was organized by the Benue state Planning Commission in collaboration with United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF), with the theme, “Prioritizing Investment in Maternal, Infant, Young Child and Adolescent Nutrition – Key to Sustainable Development.”

The Chief Field Officer said the theme of the meeting was timely and in line with the global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals which clearly states that by 2030, “end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5yeas of age and address the nutritional need of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older person.
While describing as unfortunate, the fact that malnutrition has become a silent emergency and receives far too little attention, she pledged commitment of UNICEF to partnering and working with Benue state and other relevant partners, stakeholders, UN agencies, media and private sector to help propel the global movement forward and to achieve the agenda.

She opined that while the causes of the stunting may be complex, investments in scaling up nutrition will yield immediate returns, save lives, enable children and their mothers to have a better future, contribute to livelihoods, reduce poverty and contribute to the economic growth of nations.

She, on behalf of the organization, appreciated Benue stakeholders for taking interest in the critical issue, saying UNICEF is looking forward to seeing the state and Nigeria, as a whole, investing more and allocating more resources to the nutrition of children and mothers.
Presenting a report on nutrition activities in Benue from 2022 till date, the Senior Nutrition Officer with the Benue state Primary Health Care Board (BNSPHCB), Faustina Shar, said a comprehensive review of results in 2021 shows a significant decline in child food poverty across the states with Benue showing higher levels of child food poverty compared to other states.
“This implies that more hands need to be on deck to ensure children’s access to adequate nutrition for their development.

Speaking on Multi sectoral collaboration and financing, a facilitator, Prof Mathew Anigo, stated that 54 percent of deaths among children under the age of five years are caused by malnutrition.
Prof. Anigo who identified climate change, the Russia/Ukraine crisis among others as factors affecting nutrition in the country, said there was urgent need for a public private partnership to solving the issues.

While advocating for a political will on the part of government, Anigo also said there was need to develop the nutritional plan and domesticate the policy in the state to not only tackle malnutrition but to nip it in the bud.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top