Over N11.1b investment to address malnutrition in Gombe, a worthy spending... UNICEF

Gombe State Deputy Governor, Manasseh Daniel Jatau (PhD) with other dignitaries after the launch of the State's four year strategic plan of action on food and nutrition.

By Williams Ago, Gombe

The Bauchi Field Office of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has described the investment of over N11.1b in tackling malnutrition in the next four years by the Gombe State Government as a worthy spending.

Dr. Tushar Rane, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, made the commendation at the launching/Dissemination of Gombe State Nutrition Policy and Costed Multi sectoral Food and Nutrition Strategic Plan of Action for the next four years.

The strategic plan estimates that the interventions across the state would require a public investment of ₦11,169,423,741.16 with an average annual public investment cost estimated of ₦2,035,892,400.00 over the next four years (2023-2027).

Represented by Philomena Irene, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr Rane said the Costed Multisectoral Strategic Plan will promote diets, services and practices that support optimal nutrition, growth and development for all children, adolescents, and women. 

"The Food and Nutrition Policy we are launching today will guide Gombe State to address the hindrances to food and nutrition security from individual, household, community, local government to state levels. 

"It steers the identification, design, and implementation of intervention activities across relevant sectors,” Dr. Tushar Rane stated.

Children in Gombe State are experiencing chronic food poverty. About 30.7 percent of newborns are exclusively breastfed; only 22.5 percent of children aged 6 to 23 months in Gombe receive a minimum acceptable diet and only 8.4% receive minimum dietary diversity. 

Also, more than 50% of women and children are anemic. "These statistics are available in the 2021 MICS," Dr Rane said.

"We envisage that the effective implementation of this policy can contribute to alleviating these nutrition gaps in the state. Hence, at UNICEF, we delightfully supported the development of this policy from the scratch. 

"UNICEF mobilised financial and technical support in terms of providing data on nutrition indices and support the costing of the policy. 

"UNICEF facilitated the engagement of external experts and its own technical experts, whose synergy with the state’s technical team ensured the birthing of this policy and costed multisectoral plan of action," Dr. Tushar Rane added.

In his remark shortly after launching the food and nutrition policy and multisectoral plan of action 2023-2027 document, the Gombe State deputy governor, Dr. Manasseh Daniel Jatau, said launching of the Policy and Action Plan is a clear realization by government that whatever that is to stand the test of time must be on a very solid foundation.

He said the implementation of the Policy Plan of Action is a task that must be carried out effectively for the optimal nutritional status of residents of Gombe State, within the time frame of 2023-2027. 

He noted that even when 2023 is gone already, "We must all put hands on deck to avoid a situation where set dates and targets by concerned authorities are not met.”

Earlier, the Gombe State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Salihu Baba-Alkali, said the costed plan allows the guiding principles and inappropriate strategic options for efficient implementations mechanism for nutrition intervention to address malnutrition in Gombe state.

He commended UNICEF Bauchi Field Office for their support to the state in the area of the review of the Food and Nutrition (2023-2027) and the development of a multi sectoral plan of Action and engagement of facilitators who guided the process.

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