Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) governors under the auspices of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) have spoken on the need to improve the implementation of the federal school feeding programmes in all APC States and making the monitoring and accountability part of the implementation.
While admitting that malnutrition and undernourishment are social, economic and developmental challenges that must be addressed comprehensively, the Forum warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an entirely new dimension to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond school-age children to include the adult population.
The governors raised the alarm in a communique issued in Abuja after a teleconference meeting of Secretaries to Governments of APC States on Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition held within the week and signed by the governor of Plateau State and Co-Chairman, PGF Governance Prog. Steering Committee, Simon Bako Lalong, and his Jigawa counterpart, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar.
Part of the communique read:
“The issue of malnutrition and undernourishment is a social, economic and developmental challenge that must be addressed holistically, as part of the nation’s commitment towards the attainment of the United Nations Social Development Goals (UN-SDGs) and meeting the target of zero hunger in the country by 2030.
“COVID-19 pandemic has introduced entirely new dimensions to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond the children, also to include the adult population.
“There is the need to adequately plan and develop capacities at all levels for ownership and sustainability of nutrition policies and programmes in the APC States;
“There is an urgent need to improve further the implementation of school feeding programmes and make monitoring and accountability part of the programme implementation in the APC States,” the governors agreed.
The Forum in its recommendations further noted:
“For consideration/implementation by the APC States, there should be increased commitment and political will towards improving child nutrition in the APC States through enhancing resource mobilisation and incorporating in the annual budget both nutrition-specific interventions and programmes and nutrition-sensitive programmes.
“Engage concertedly with critical stakeholders to explore cross-sectoral opportunities for child nutrition interventions at all levels. Plan and implement nutrition policy interventions and programmes that will be sustainable and resilient to the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated economic fallouts.
“Develop and strengthen legislation, policies, strategies and action plans with measurable outcomes for nutritional and related interventions, including pregnant women, youth, and other vulnerable households.
“Take leadership and ownership in the coordination and strengthening of child nutrition programmes and interventions by ensuring appropriate synergy between Ministries, Agencies and Departments, Local Governments, Development Partners, the Civil Society Partners, and the Private Sector.
“Have a collective meeting with Development partners that would essentially focus on the domestication of FG and PGF policies on child nutrition in each APC state.
“Enhance sensitisation, awareness, enlightenment, education, and other complementary activities, particularly at community levels on child nutrition and related issues.
“Encourage interactions with farmers and entrepreneurs along the value chain in the local communities to develop a better understanding of how to participate and increase knowledge of nutrition and food security, and related environmental factors (such as climate change).
“Explore ways to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme and make accountability part of its implementation in the APC States.
“Create a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on policies, implementation challenges and gaps as well as sustainability that will also serve as a framework for peer learning, sharing of best practices and peer review amongst the APC states to ensure that they all are working collectively to align their nutrition policies with those of the federal government of Nigeria.
“Accordingly, the meeting adopted a proposed framework for Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in the APC States for the consideration of Progressive Governors,” the governors recommended.
In attendance for the 9th quarterly meeting of the Secretaries to Government of the APC States (SGSs) includes the SGSs of APC States, other representatives of states and members of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee.