Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Nigeria’s Food security: CISLAC, GAIN, NESG, E-Health Africa, Hold Retreat Proffer Solutions

…Calls For A Bill On National Agency on Nutrition

By Abdullahi Alhassan, Kaduna

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), National Economic Summit Group (NESG), E-Health Africa, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), through a Third-Party Advocacy Campaign (TPAC), have organised a two-day Retreat for relevant committees of NASS. The theme of the Retreat was “Retreat on Food Fortification, Workforce Nutrition, and Food Systems Transformation”.

The Retreat was aimed at equiping members of the NASS with the knowledge and tools necessary to develop and implement effective policies and bills to drive food fortification, workforce nutrition, and sustainable food systems transformation, ultimately improving the health and economic well-being of the Nigerian population.

A Communiqué after the retreat was jointly Signed by Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)Executive Director of CISLAC/TI-Nigeria. Dr Tayo Aduloju CEO, Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Dr Micheal Ojo Country Director of GAIN.
Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe.
Health System Consultant
Senator Samaila Kaila Dahuwa.
Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Health Honorable.Regina Akume
Chairman House on NAFDAC.

The Communiqué Observes the followings :-
“Poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and diseases are massive problems for Nigeria.Challenges with food systems are major causes of these problems, but these challenges also create major opportunities for improving food systems.

“The multi-dimensional insecurity challenges caused by activities of armed groups continue to wreak havoc on the quantity and quality of food production and distribution, while hampering workforce efficiency and productivity in various parts of the country.

“High loss of foods after harvest, due to poor storage and processing, hinders food security. Soaring food prices have plunged many households into crushing hunger and starvation, exacerbating the country’s already pervasive food insecurity.

“The Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning has published a multisectoral “National Pathways to Food Systems Transformation” document that outlines the roles of various MDAs in transforming food systems.

“The Pathways document is an outcome of many dialogues across the country as part of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit.However, knowledge about the Pathways is limited.

“Absence of a workforce nutrition policy in Nigeria contributes to workforce malnutrition, with devastating impacts on health, productivity, and economic development.

“Although there is longstanding regulation mandating fortification of some staple foods, i.e., the addition of nutrients to the foods during processing, compliance has continued to be inadequate across the manufacturing, distribution, and retail sectors.

“There are gaps in the comprehensiveness and coherence of existing policies for food systems and nutrition. For instance, foods addressed by existing fortification regulations are no longer the most widely consumed foods in Nigeria; the National Policy on Food and Nutrition does not include intentional connections with climate change.

“Shortage of human resources (number and competencies) for food systems and nutrition within relevant MDAs and in key Offices, remain critical impediments to efficient action on food systems, workforce nutrition, and enforcement of food fortification compliance at all levels.

“Low collaboration and coordination across stakeholders lead to poor access to information among policy and food system actors and consumers, reducing effective action.Financing for food systems and nutrition has been inadequate in all MDAs with a relevant mandate.

The communiqué also made some Recommendations, as follows.
“To effectively steer the country’s food systems and nutrition landscape, the position of the Special Adviser to the President on Food Systems and Nutrition should be filled and strengthened with data analysis tools, technical assistance, and increased funding.

“The National Food Safety Bill should be revisited by a five-member Committee, two members in the Senate (Health and Agriculture), three members in the House of Representatives (NAFDAC, Agriculture – Food Production, and Nutrition), and with GAIN providing technical assistance; to address gaps and conflicts in the Bill and champion it through legislative processes.

“A Food Fortification Bill should be developed and processed to passage and assent, with the involvement of all relevant MDAs.4.”A National Workforce Nutrition Policy should be drafted with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.

“Public awareness about workforce nutrition and associated interventions should be raised through impactful evidence-based campaigns, fostering widespread acceptance, and paving the way for ratification and implementation of the draft policy.

“A Bill for a National Agency on Nutrition should be developed and championed through legislative processes.

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