From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission (PBC) in Kaduna State Hajiya Umma Aboki on Tuesday expressed the readiness of her ministry to extend the advocacy on the creation of specific budget lines and cash-backing for nutrition activities in the state to relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) beginning with the commissioner for finance in the state.
Aboki stated this in an interview shortly after she hosted an advocacy team of nutrition stakeholders led by the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) in her office.
She said “to us as a commission in charge of planning and budgeting in the state, this advocacy visit is to show us where we were in 2017 in nutrition and to see how far we have come, what are the challenges and what we need to do to improve on that.
“We will also look at how much money we need to provide to ensure we join hands with other partners to eradicate malnutrition in our children in Kaduna State and that is what we discussed today.
“My commitment to the committee is to take up the mandate and discuss with relevant MDAs to ensure they have specific budget lines, provide funding and monitor them closely to ensure these activities are carried out so we have better children in the future.
“The PBC and Ministry of Finance are two-piece in a bud. We work together because the Finance will not have anything to cash-back if there is no planning and budgeting. But then, we know they also work with the available resources they have.
“It is easier to do the budget but having to get the revenue is a Herculean task. But we will work closely together. We will also pay advocacy to the Commissioner in Finance to share the available nutrition data with him and seek his support in providing the cash-backing for the activities in the nutrition sector”, she said.
Coordinator of CS-SUNN in the state, Jessica Bartholomew expressed optimism that with the commitment on the part of the commissioner, there is the hope of eradicating malnutrition among the Kaduna children especially those under the age of five.
“We have been able to see the commissioner and shared our performance on nutrition as a state with her. Earlier, we held a budget meeting where we were able to showcase what we have been able to do when it comes to funding nutrition intervention in the state.
“One of the key challenges to the eradication of malnutrition is the poor cash-backing of nutrition allocation. In terms of allocation, we have a lot of funding for nutrition but when it comes to expenditure, it is below 50 per cent.
“So, CS-SUNN came together with nutrition partners and PBC as the coordinating body for nutrition to see how we can use advocacy to see improvement in cash-backing of nutrition activities.
“Again, there is a challenge of creating specific budget lines for nutrition in some relevant MDAs like health and agriculture. We are not just asking for cash-backing but to also advocate that those relevant MDAs have a specific budget allocation, especially now that we are in the process of developing g budget for the next year,” Jessica said.