Search NaijaAgroNet

Showing posts with label malnutrition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label malnutrition. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Communiqué: 2,000 children, 145 women die daily due to malnutrition - NaijaAgroNet

Communiqué issued at the end of a 3-day Media Training/Field visit at Consort Luxury Suites, Abuja from October 29th to November 1st, 2018.
Theme: The Journalists’ Role in Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in Allocation and Use of Health/Nutrition Funds in Nigeria. 
The Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) under the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS) project, organized the training to build capacity of media practitioners to develop stories and programmes focusing on transparency and accountability in allocation and use of health/nutrition funds in focal states and the country at large. The training was also organized to engender passion and commitment to reporting health and nutrition issues through site visit to Kwali Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre for firsthand experience of the challenges in the sector among other important issues.

It was observed that:

1. Malnutrition is a multi-sectorial issue of serious concern that requires a collective response.

2. Nigeria loses over 2000 children under five years of age on daily basis due to malnutrition.

3. Over 145 women of child bearing age die daily due to malnutrition.

4. The first 1000 days of life from the time of conception to a child’s second birth day is not prioritized.

5. Governments have not been making adequate budgetary allocation, approval, timely release and cash backing.

6. Where budgets are allocated and released, they focus more on the curative measures than preventive measures.

7. A malnourished child when immunized does not absorb/utilize the immunization.

8. There is low reportage of nutrition related issues in Nigeria.

9. 53% of deaths from child killer diseases is directly related to malnutrition.

10. Most mothers at the PHC are not practicing Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF).

11. There is lack of male/husband involvement and support towards EBF.

Recommendations:

1. Participants agreed that stakeholders (Government, Media, CSOs, care givers, Donor agencies etc) need to place emphasis on preventive than curative measures.

2. Government and policy makers should be held accountable for their commitments.

3. Journalists should be consistent in their reportage on nutrition.

4. Media practitioners should hold government accountable by getting enough information aimed at addressing nutrition issues.

5. Media should put nutrition at the front burner and influence policy decisions through their reportage for improved nutrition interventions.

6. Participants should advocate for policies to mainstream nutrition into agriculture.

7. Media should sensitize women on the need to exclusively breastfeed their children in the first six (6) months of life, without addition of water.

8. Media should also sensitize women to continue to breastfeed their children for two years in addition to adequate complementary feeding.

9. Media practitioners are encouraged to explore key components of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so as to bring to the fore requisite solutions to the plights of women, children and other vulnerable groups.

10. Government should scale up and sustain existing interventions on nutrition.

11. Media should intensify campaign towards behavioral change, especially for men to support EBF.


Signed:

Mr. Salihu Mohammed Alkali (chairman, drafting committee)

Priscilla Dennis (Mrs) (secretary, drafting committee)

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Educating Nigerians on nutrition requires media stepping up - NaijaAgroNet


Educating Nigerians is one of the cardinal points for the media in the country, especially on nutrition-related issues, which requires media practitioners to step up their games, says the Communications Officer at the Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Mrs. Lilian Aja-mong, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking at a 3-day media workshop on reporting nutrition which opened in Abuja, Monday, she noted the urgent need to step up media engagement in and around reporting nutrition and urged for redoubling of efforts.

She told participants at the workshop with the theme: Role in Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in Allocation and Use of Health Nutrition Funds in Nigeria, it’s time to intensify efforts in educating Nigerians on the dangers of malnutrition in the country so that requisite actions can be taken for a better society, so as to limit the associated menace.

He commended participants and urged them to make good of the workshop by learning as much as possible to increase their passion on curtailing malnutrition in Nigeria using the power of the media, that is result driven, efficient, serviceable, effective and transparency.

Welcoming participants, CS-SUNN Project Manager, Mr. Sunday Okoronkwo, pointed out that part of the effort of the organization has been to train journalist on how to write a comprehensive report on malnutrition aimed at achieving the desired goals.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that part of the objectives of the workshop is to build the capacity of media to write stories for transparency and accountability in allocation and use of health cum nutrition funds in focal states and country at large.

In addition, the work tends to engender passion and commitment to reporting health and nutrition issues through site visits for first-hand experience of challenges in the sector, as well as disseminate and ability to correctly and accurately interpret the 2014-2018 health and nutrition budget analysis for media audience, whereas increasing salience of nutrition and making it a front burner on agenda of government.

Nenye Dom/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

AfDB, FAO sign deal to end hunger, malnutrition - NaijaAgroNet

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Food and AgricultureOrganisation (FAO) have signed deal aimed at catalysing agriculture sector investments in Africa to end hunger and malnutrition and increase prosperity throughout the continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The agreement, NaijaAgroNet gathered comprised that AfDB and FAO are committed to raise up to $100 million over five years, to support joint partnership activities.

The new alliance precisely seeks to enhance the quality and impact of investment in food security, nutrition, social protection, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signed the agreement, which builds on a longstanding collaboration between their organizations, at the UN agency's Rome headquarters.

"FAO and the AfDB are deepening and broadening our partnership to assist African countries achieve the sustainable development goals. Leveraging investments in agriculture, including from the private sector, is key to lift millions of people from hunger and poverty in Africa and to ensure that enough food is produced and that enough rural jobs are created for the continent's growing population," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said: "The signing of this supplementary agreement is a milestone moment in the relationship between the African Development Bank and FAO. It signals our joint commitment to accelerate the delivery of high quality programs and increased investment for public-private-partnerships in Africa's agriculture sector. This will help us achieve the vision of making agriculture a business, as enshrined in the Bank's Feed Africa strategy."

The Bank's Feed Africa strategy, launched in 2015, targets to invest $24 billion into African agriculture over a ten-year period. The aim is that of improving agricultural policies, markets, infrastructure and institutions to ensure that agricultural value chains are well developed and that improved technologies are made available to reach several millions farmers.


Isaac Oyimah/ED, Ops

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

1.6m children to experience severe acute malnutrition @Sahel - NaijaAgroNet

An estimated 1.6 million children are expected to experience severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel region of Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said that the Sahel is on lean season which ran from June to August, 2018 nears its close, latest estimates showed that nearly 6 million people will have been severely food insecure in this period.

“Of these, almost half – or 2.7 million people – are pastoralists or agropastoralists. Up to 1.6 million children are expected to experience severe acute malnutrition,” official FAO press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet read.

Today, the three UN agency heads, whose organizations are working in partnership within the UN system-wide support to the Sahel, will underscore joint efforts aimed at addressing poverty, underdevelopment, the impacts of extreme weather events and migration - factors that have all contributed to the region’s critical humanitarian and security situation.

These heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of theUnited Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development(IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are on official working visit to Niger on a three-day working visit between 15-18 August 2018, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This visit, NaijaAgroNet gathered will see these chiefs highlighting regional efforts to address the critical food and nutrition security situation in the Sahel.

The trio including FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo, and WFP Executive Director David Beasley, will meet Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou as well as Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and other members of the country’s government.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Monday, July 23, 2018

FAO reiterates support to eradicate hunger, malnutrition - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has reiterated support to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, especially in Portuguese-speaking countries, reports NaijaAgroNet.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva disclosed this in Cape Verde, Monday, as part of efforts at consolidating the National Councils of Food and Nutritional Security function.

He pointed out to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) that in the implementation of their Regional Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition to eradicate hunger and will ensure adequate food in the lusophone countries.

He stressed that FAO will continue to support the work of the National Food and Nutritional Security Councils (CONSAN), that have been set up in seven of the bloc’s nine member states (Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Timor-Leste, Guinea-Bisau and, as of last week, Portugal)) and said he hoped that both Angola and Equatorial Guinea would follow their example.

"National Councils are fundamental to promote better governance of the Regional Strategy and an inclusive dialogue between the various governmental and non-governmental actors," said Graziano da Silva, addressing the Second Meeting of the Food and Nutrition Security Council of the CPLP taking place this week in Cape Verde.

"Today, more than ever, it is essential to listen to and consider the opinions of international organizations, civil society, the private sector, parliamentarians, research institutes and the academic world," he added.  Graziano da Silva reiterated that only by working together, the international community will be able to overcome the challenges for sustainable development and ensure that no one is left behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cape Verde, emphasized the importance of raising the status of CONSAN as an advisory body to CPLP Heads of State and Government, suggesting that is regular meetings always be held on the sidelines of CPLP summits.

The Santa Maria Declaration adopted today by CONSAN-CPLP recognized Graziano da Silva’s work and leadership as FAO Director-General and his efforts to make it a more efficient and effective organization in support of member states for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The community of Portuguese-speaking countries includes Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor Leste.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Pix: FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva

Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 Children’s Day: Wanton killings worry MeCAM, says it compounds children malnutrition misery

As the world gear up to mark the 2018 Children’s Day, the Media Centre Against Child Malnutrition (MeCAM Nigeria) has expressed worries over the wanton killings going on across the country, especially by suspected terrorist-herdsmen and urged the Federal Government (FG) to put a stop to it, because its effect compounds children nutrition status, reports NaijaAgroNet.

A press statement endorsed by the Director, Outreach for MeCAM, Mrs. Julie Ekong, in commemoration of the 2018 Children’s Day, MeCAM chairman, Mr. Remmy Nweke noted that the destruction of farmlands and killings by the terrorists-herdsmen have reduced the number of farmers; while some have been killed, others have fled their farmlands.

The deaths have also left many children motherless, aggravating the already low percentage of exclusive breast fed children in Nigeria, which according to UNICEF stood at 15 per cent.
Conflicts and resulting mass displacement, he said, often results in increased prevalence of acute malnutrition and mortality.

MeCAM, therefore calls on Federal Government to pay more attention to children in Internally Displaced camps with a view to reducing malnutrition and stunted growth through vitamin A supplementation.

Although MeCAM noted that Nigeria has made progress in micronutrient deficiency, UNICEF says half of the children aged 6-59 months do not receive Vitamin A supplementation. Whereas, some 11 million under age children are said to be stunted especially in the North East and North West part of the country, as well as the poorest sectors of the society.

MeCAM believes that this year’s theme ”Creating safe spaces for children: Our collective responsibility,” is apt because intervention by relevant authorities will lead to the protection of children and their mothers which will translate to less crises and interruption in the lives of the children that will aggravate malnutrition and stunted growth of children in the country.
Children, MeCAM insisted have a right to life and food.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that Media Centre Against Child Malnutrition (MeCAM) Nigeria was founded Thursday, August 28, 2015, as a media advocacy group against child malnutrition and well-being, as well as to strengthen the agro-nutrition capacity and interest of its members professionally in contribution to nation-building, especially in Nigeria and across the continent of Africa among developing countries of the world.

MeCAM is committed to showcasing successful and development efforts in the area of agro-nutrition for the benefit of mankind and for Africa emancipation from extreme hunger especially in children, women and society, centred on Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Friday, February 2, 2018

Malnutrition: Kim commends Senegalese Cellule de Lutte

The President of World Bank Group, Mr. Jim Yong Kim has commended the Senegal-based Cellule de Lutte contre la Malnutrition over its activities to reduce malnutriton in the country, reports NaijaAgroNet.
Kim who is in the capital of Senegal, Dakar for a three-day working visit, said it was inspiring to meet the Senegalese commitment, which he described as great progress in reducing chronic malnutrition.
“In large part thanks to the community-based approach implemented by Cellule de Lutte contre la Malnutrition,” he said.
Kim also expressed delight over meeting with some of the people making it happen.
“We are proud supporter,” he asserted.
NaijaAgroNet further recalls that Mr. Kim was in Senegal for a three-day working visit.
This, NaijaAgroNet gathered, was in conjunction with the visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France.
NaijaAgroNet also gathered that the visit follows the One Planet Summit which both Kim and Macron co-hosted in Paris in December 2017, and seeks to demonstrate commitment to joint action on adaptation to climate change.
President Macron and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will also travel with President Macky Sall of Senegal to Saint-Louis, a historic town under threat from coastal erosion.
“I want to congratulate the Government of Senegal for its leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation. I am looking forward to visiting Saint-Louis, where efforts to stop coastal erosion are a great example of how the Government can work with the international community to initiate collective action for the region. The World Bank Group is committed to helping Senegal, West Africa, and countries around the world address the effects of climate change,” Kim said.
During his visit, the World Bank Group President will hold bilateral meetings with President Sall and President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso. He will also attend a high-level session on global education challenges.
Kim will reiterate the World Bank’s commitment to strong partnership with Senegal and with France in support of African development.
He will also seek the government’s leadership in improving educational outcomes and creating quality educational opportunities for all. “Human capital is essential for sustained long-term growth and rising living standards,”Kim said. “Transformational change in education will allow Senegalese to capitalize on technological change and leapfrog into the 21st century economy.”

 Isaac Oyimah/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Monday, October 30, 2017

Africa, a hungry people and malnutrition battle

Can Maputo declaration save Africa from classification as a hungry people, malnourished region and scale up food security ambitions, asked REMMY NWEKE in this report.

Preamble:
The latest United Nations global report says 815 million are hungry people and ranked Africa second with 243m victims out of 1.216 billion population of the continent as at December 2016 by the World Bank. And the next phase is for the victims to delve into malnutrition.

NaijaAgroNet reports that this is in spite of Africa being ranked the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent, spanning to about 30.3 million kilometres in landmass, including adjacent islands, covering some 6 per cent of earth's total surface area and 20.4 per cent of its total land area. Africa also ranks fifth among continents by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worth $2,190 billion, according to the online open sourced encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

However, UN’s latest hunger and food security key numbers made available to NaijaAgroNet, saw Asia continent with 520 million, that is, over 100 per cent of African quota; whereas the top three continents in the hungriest people in the world included Latin America and the Caribbean with 42 million. Shared in percentage, NaijaAgroNet gathered showed that Asia has 11.7 per cent; Africa has 20 per cent with eastern Africa alone scored 33.9 per cent, while Latin America and the Caribbean got 6.6 per cent.

This was the first time that United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO), joined the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) in preparing ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report. This change reflects the harmonization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda's broader view on hunger and all forms of malnutrition.

Thus, NaijaAgroNet noted that the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, established by the General Assembly, is lending focus to this effort by motivating governments to set goals and invest in measures to address the multiple dimensions of malnutrition, facing the world today. So, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 was re-geared for the SDG era and includes enhanced metrics for quantifying and assessing hunger, including two indicators on food insecurity and six indicators on nutrition.

Economic sense of zero tolerance for food loss, waste:
Speaking at the sideline of the recently held 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr. José Graziano da Silva, renewed calls with focus on tackling food loss and waste as a pathway to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger, declaring that "Zero tolerance for food loss and waste makes economic sense.”  Noting recent report which indicated that every $1 invested in food loss and food waste policies bring $14 in return, and stressed that "Investing in measures to prevent food loss and food waste also means making investments in pro-poor policies as it promotes sustainable food systems for a zero hunger world."
According to him, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally each year, pointing out that this loss and waste occur throughout the supply chain, from farm to fork, insisting that beyond food, it represents a total waste of labour, water, energy, land and other inputs, lamenting “If food loss and waste were a country, it would rank as the third highest national emitter of greenhouse gases.”
Graziano was joined by Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, Josefa Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union as well as representatives of the governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Angola in calling for greater cooperation by governments, business, development partners, farmers groups and others to address the problem.
Food technologists develop tools to prevent loss, waste
Of late, NaijaAgroNet reported that food technologists at FAO revealed they have developed tools and methodologies for identifying losses, their causes and potential solutions along the entire food value chain, from production, storage and processing to distribution and consumption. Obviously reacting to the latest UN disclosure that some 815 million hungry people are in the world, the majority lives in rural areas of developing countries and are family farmers, pastoralists or fishers, these experts cited South-East Asia, for example, noting that fruit and vegetable producers found that around 20 per cent of tomatoes were damaged during transportation because of the way they were packed in bulk.
Confirming this, DG, FAO, Mr. José Graziano da Silva, said the initiatives will improve packaging practices, with participation of producers and other stakeholders, resulting in an impressive 90 per cent reduction of these losses, recalling that in 2013, FAO launched a global initiative on food loss and waste called Save Food.
The platform, NaijaAgroNet gathered, includes a network of over 500 partners from international organizations, the private sector, civil society and others with the objective of promoting awareness and the exchange of ideas and best practices on preventing food waste and loss.
FAO also said, it has produced data and information so that decision-makers could better understand where and how food losses and waste occur, and the agency is working with partners to measure the impact of food loss and waste reductions on food security and nutrition.
A nation undermining her children’s development:
Then long after, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) exposed Nigerian government over alleged putting her children at risk of under-development, both physically and mentally, because critical national policies were not adequately provided to entrench foundation for their growth. Maintaining that brain grows rapidly; thus providing good nutrition, loving care and appropriately play and provide solid foundations for a child’s learning could eventually contribution to economic and social growth.
In its Early Moments Matter for Every Child, UNICEF outlined three policies that could give parents the time and resources needed to support their young children’s healthy development, including “two years of free pre-primary education; six months of paid maternity leave; and four weeks of paid paternity leave.” Decrying that Nigeria currently has just three months of paid maternity leave, only one year of free pre-primary education and no paternity leave at all, with only about one in every 10 pre-primary children are enrolled in early education activities.
Also, NaijaAgroNet reports that according to a medical journal, The Lancet, Nigeria ranks among the 10 countries with the largest number of children at risk of poor development. Whereas the 2016 national survey indicated that 31 per cent of children under the age of five were moderately or severely underweight in Nigeria. Insisting, “Stunting as a result of malnutrition can cause irreversible physical and mental retardation. Though, the exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life has clearly been shown to improve physical and mental development, the same survey revealed that only 24 per cent of Nigerian children are exclusively breastfed for six months. Paid maternity leave will help to increase the number of children exclusively breastfed.
As said by Mohamed Fall, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, “What we call Early Childhood Development, includes physical and cognitive support, and has a strategic place in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Investing in Early Childhood Development including services to support caregivers, quality pre-primary education and good nutrition will help to secure healthy and productive future generations in Nigeria.”

Yes, early childhood development matters:
In addition, he said that by supporting exclusive breastfeeding, having Early Childhood Development policies in place will help to improve the overall health and nutrition of a child, enable parents and caregivers to be more responsive to children’s needs and provide greater safety and security. It will also provide improved early learning.

He asserted that ‘With 90 per cent of a child’s brain development occurring before the age of five, early childhood experiences can have a profound impact on a child’s development and can ultimately impact a country’s growth.”
The import of the foregoing is that if Nigeria could undermine the growth of her younger generation and due to lack of requisite policies as claimed by UNICEF, why should Africa not have a set of hungry people, even to the tune of 243m. This is because lots of people and Africans precisely look up to Nigeria as a ‘big brother’ who should show leadership.

Maputo declaration, nutrition and food security:
Of course, showing leadership is not all political, but on the practical terms, may be by domesticating the African Union 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security (Assembly/AU/Decl. 7(II)), which stressed that 10 per cent of national budget allocation should go to agriculture development, invariably to the letter in the next five years, that is till 2008.
In September 2016, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) declared that the countries which paid intense attention to farmers and food production in the past ten years achieved the most successful development in African history.
According to AGRA President, Agnes Kalibata, “The countries that made the biggest investments in agriculture were rewarded with sizeable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance,” and noted that agriculture had its biggest impact in countries that embraced the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), which called for African governments to allocate 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture with a view to gain six percent annual growth in the sector.
AGRA report also noted that even if they didn’t hit the 10 per cent targets, early adopters of the CAADP have seen agricultural productivity rise by 5.9 to 6.7 per cent per year, thereby, boosting a 4.3 per cent average annual increase in overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and listed CAADP adopters to include Nigeria, Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Togo and attributed their posting of higher agriculture productivity and stronger GDP growth with declines in malnutrition compared to countries that have not adopted the initiative.
Submission:
Thus, the report urged African leaders and governments for higher investment in agricultural research in the wake of climate change and increased support for youths to take up farming.
Its unthinkable that a continent with the landmass that Africa has should be graded among the hungriest people on earth. Efforts should be made to reverse trend. If technology development could be seen as slow and knowhow, do we need also tally behind on cultivating our natural resources, agriculture inclusive.

Therefore, this is a clarion call on the Nigerian government to show leadership, after all, an adage says ‘charity begins at home’ and to whom much is given, much is expected, especially on the UNICEF report, otherwise the continent’s future leaders may be stunted children which will boomerang on respective member nations.
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Pix: Moussa Faki, AUC chairperson and Audu Ogbe, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture

Monday, September 11, 2017

Five UN agencies to unveil first-ever consolidated report on malnutrition


Five United Nations (UN) agencies have concluded plans to unveil the first-ever consolidated UN report on progress towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2030, reports NaijaAgroNet.

These agencies include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the UN World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

NaijaAgroNet gathered that the unveiling slated for FAO headquarters on Friday, September 15, this year, would see the new edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World with updated estimates of the number and proportion of hungry people on the planet and includes data for the global, regional, and national levels.

“It offers a significant update on the shifting global milieu that is today affecting people's food security and nutrition, in all corners of the globe,” a source at UN disclosed to NaijaAgroNet.

This, NaijaAgroNet further gathered is the first time that UNICEF and WHO join FAO, IFAD and WFP in preparing the annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.
 
NaijaAgroNet reports that this change reflects the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) broader view on hunger and all forms of malnutrition. Stressing the report would include enhanced metrics for quantifying and assessing hunger, including two indicators on food insecurity and six indicators on nutrition.


Chuks Egbune/GEE
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nigeria: A nation of grass-cutters?

Features@NaijaAgroNet: 
At this era of recession in Nigeria, its alarming how the political elites are turning the agony of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), into grass-cutting enterprise. REMMY NWEKE in this report for NaijaAgroNet x-rays how this is contributing to food insecurity in the IDPs, north-east and malnutrition nationwide.
Man in the centre of grass-cutting deal, David Babachir Lawal
Preamble:
Mere hearing of the word grass-cutter for a layman, one is made to believe it is a rodent with scientific name of Thryonomysswinderianus, although known in some quarters as the marsh cane-rat, ground hog and given its relationship from the family of Hystricomorphaequally known as porcupine family.

But literally speaking, the word grass-cutters have since assumed a different meaning in the Nigerian context, at least in the last six months, due to the ugly incident of discovery of huge sums of money allegedly appropriated for the so-called cutting of grass in the troubled north-eastern Nigeria, following the lingering Boko Haram insurgency.

At first, it was a whistle blowing effort by a Senator, APC Kaduna-South, Mr. Sani Shehu for this word to assume a different dimension, because according to him, every day since the President Muhammdu Buhari APC-led government assumed power at the federal, there have series of fund said to have been donated for the rehabilitation of families who have been sacked from their homes by a group of terrorist, Boko Haram, but it seems the effect remain invisible both in the camps and lives of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Malnourished baby Zeinab and mother in IDP camp ... Courtesy UNICEF Nigeria
50,000 IDP children malnourished due to food insecurity:
From the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) there are estimated 50,000 children in the IDP camp that  are malnourished, aside the 2.5million suffering from malnutrition across Nigeria, due to food insecurity, according to the Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Omar Abdi, who revealed this recently in Maiduguri after a tour of camps, both within and outside the Borno State capital.

Abdi who was in Nigeria with UNICEF drawn from their offices in New York, Dakar and Abuja on-the-spot needs assessment tour in the affected population, said they have scaled up programmes in working with other partners and supporting government efforts.

“So far the nutrition community has reached 12,000 children that are severely malnourished per month. We need to quadruple that number in order to reach all of the children that are severely malnourished. If they are not treated quickly, they are at risk of dying both from malnutrition and from other diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria and so on,” he said, stressing they are also concerned about the education and access to clean water for thousands of children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Oslo humanitarian conference for Nigeria:
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had disclosed that since the start of the conflict in 2009, over 20,000 people have been killed, countless women and girls abducted and children drafted as suicide bombers into Boko Haram.  Just as some 2.1 million people fled their homes, at the height of the conflict, resulting in some 1.8 million of them currently internally displaced and 0.2 million in neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

OCHA also pointed out that in the three most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe   almost 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, over 50 per cent of whom are children, claiming that in newly accessible areas vulnerable host populations are in critical need of humanitarian interventions including food, water, sanitation, protection, education, shelter and health services.

This, NaijaAgroNet reports, no doubt precipitated the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in February 2017, which raised $672 million to help people in need. While the highlights showed pledges of US$458 million for 2017 and $214 million for 2018 and beyond as announced by 14 donors, the conference gave voice to people affected by the conflict and crisis with agreement to address longer-term development needs and seek durable solutions to crises. 

IDPs in government?:
While the likes of Oslo humanitarian conference for Nigeria was ongoing, at home, highly  placed government officials were being accused of pilfering the little sent or contributed for the resuscitation of IDPs in the North-East, in what looks like their own share of the IDP largesse.

For the records, the Senate had accused the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal, an indigene of one the affected states of Adamawa who was appointed to lead the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).
A cross-section of IDPs in a camp courtesy Hamza AhA

Allegedly that M/S Josmon Technologies Limited was awarded the contract on 8th March, 2016 under the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), which handles the procurement of relief materials including food and non-food items, medical equipment and project vehicles for IDPS in the North-East, worth N220 million.

The contract suspected to be bogus was for the removal of wild grass along river channel and the provision of 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation in Yobe State, which led to subsequent bank transfers to another firm, identified as Rholavision Engineering Limited, belonging to Mr. Lawal. According to findings by the Senate committee on PINE between March and September 2016, some lodgments were made to Rholavision account at EcoBank, along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, with account numbers 0182001809 and 1180010559651 respectively.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that Rholavision Engineering Limited has its head office on No. 36, Gobarau Road, Kaduna, with registered address at 26, Ahmed Dantanko Road, Kaduna. Although industry watchers have been wondering the immediate connection of IDPs with grass removal at river channel, otherwise refer to as grass-cutting. Mr. Lawal had denied any involvement or wrongdoing as far as PINE contract is concerned and was even cleared by the initial inquiry by the Presidency on this matter.

Prior to Mr. Lawal taking over, PINE, NaijaAgroNet reports was being run by a Senior Special Assistant to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki. But Lawal explained to Channels TV that there is a Permanent Secretary who runs PINE and at SGF office, there are 23 of such agencies; before his office decided to prepare IDPs by way of guaranteeing that they are able to engage in productive work before they were pushed out, which entails rebuild the schools that were burnt, rebuild the police stations and barracks so people can returns part of confidence-building.

Yet, as said by Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East committee, chaired by Senator Sani Shehu, some things went awry with the job specification, including that the job was 100 per cent completed, amount approved for the contract was N272,524,356.02; with N248,939,231.00 paid so far, leaving a balance sum of N23,585,125.02 for contingencies.

Senator Sani Shehu
These allegations, NaijaAgroNet gathered, showed that on March 29 and 30, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited paid N10,000,000.00 each day at five instalments, which amounted to N50 million daily to Rholavision  Technologies Limited. Also, on March 31, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited also made transactions twice to Rholavision Technologies Limited at N10 million, amounting to N20 million. The same company on April 1, 2016, paid N10 million to Rholavision Technologies Limited five times, amounting to N50 million respectively. Just like on April 4, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited made some transactions thrice to the Rholavision Technologies Limited at N10 million twice and N5 million, amounting to N25 million, in that order.

13 bank accounts with 1 BVN:
Equally, on August 22, NaijaAgroNet gathered that N20 million was paid under the name, JMT Global Technologies to Rholavision Technologies Limited, with reference number 99822220011865741 and on September 8, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited paid N10 million to the same company, with reference number 999222201339451, while on September 9, 2016, payments were made twice, with the first at N10 while the second one same day was N35 million. Outside the N220 million paid by Josmon, there was another debit transaction of N53 million, whereas all the 13 bank accounts shared the same Bank Verification Number (BVN) linked to Mr. Lawal.

Following the indictment of Mr. Lawal and several unhonoured invitations for public hearing, the Senate urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remove him from office, which was rebuffed by the Executive, rather it wrote the Senate absolving Lawal of any wrong doing through the office of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari.

NaijaAgroNet equally gathered that the Senate confirmed Rholavision was incorporated as an Information Technology (IT)companyby Mr. Lawal in 1990 and has handled a N233 million bush-clearing contract in the north-east in 2016. While money was paid for the contract, the work was not done, insisting that as at the time of awarding the contract in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still a director in the company and that he only resigned in September of that year and was still signatory as at February 15, 2017 to the company’s account, according to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) evidence, which contravened Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as contained in the 1999 Constitution.

PMB treating corruption with insecticide and deodorant:
Reacting to the absolution of Mr. Lawal indictment by FG, claiming lack of fair hearing among others, the Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, dismissed as “false” President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims on a Senate report suggested a defense smack of double standards.He maintained that seven members, not three as claimed by the president, signed the report and Lawal was invited to appear before, adding that SGF’s office secretary received and acknowledged the invite in addition to advert placed in three newspapers for Mr. Lawal among other parties involved to appear before the Senate committee.

“Corruption in the Judiciary and others is treated with insecticide while corruption in the government is treated with deodorant,” asserted Sani, expressed concern that President Buhari’s letter was full of misinformation and falsehood.

Senate report based on evidences of bank transactions as well as Central Bank of Nigeria, Corporate Affairs Commission and Bureau of Public Procurement documents showed that Mr. Lawal superintended the conversion of the agency to a criminal, and bizarre money making enterprise, by awarding contracts to cronies whose firms did not pass the requirements set by law, just as beneficiaries paid parts of the proceeds of the contracts to Mr. Lawal’s company and his private account in tranches.

After receiving payments from PINE, at least five companies separately paid about N450 million to the Eco Bank account (182001809) of Rholavision Engineering Limited owned by Mr. Lawal according to CAC and self-admission, and his private account (0003004417) with Diamond Bank, bank statements showed.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that on August 8, 2016, JMT Global Technologies Ltd transferred N30 million from its Zenith Bank account 114357188 to Rholavision, having been awarded  eight contracts for “rehabilitations/renovations in Adamawa” State for the sum of N199.4 million. While Messrs Adamawa Boreholes and Drilling Companies Ltd, transferred N18 million to Mr. Lawal’s company, after clinching N54.8 million contract to renovate seven classrooms at Yeskule Girls Secondary School, Michika Adamawa State.Likewise, Barde Brothers Multi-Services Limited which was also awarded seven contracts to renovate classrooms in Adamawa State for N145 million returned N71 million to Mr. Lawal’s company account on October 10, 2016, and another N13 million between July 7, 2016 and September 9, 2016 to his private account.

Robbery in high places:
Months later, President Muhammadu Buhari after returning from his initial medical vacation for 2017 suspended Mr. Lawal and Director of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Mr. Ayo Oke with a three-man panel headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo leading the panel. This Senator Sani said was commendable and pointing out that there is no time yet to jubilate because a mighty mortal is caught in the trap of his fate, “we are neither saints nor angels, but we have a duty to raise a card and blow the whistle.”

A commentator who does not want his name in print, told NaijaAgroNet that the case of Mr. Lawal and grass-cutters, shows clearly how political officer holders either elected or appointed disregard the law of the land and interest of suffering masses of Nigeria, wondering if that was the best way to fight corruption. In the contrary, an average Nigerian, he said, gets between 5-10 years in jail for stealing bread to feed their families and for stealing 1000 naira to purchase food. The annoying part, our source lamented is that, “while they were stealing the money for those in terrible situations, they were asking people to donate.”

Another concerned Nigerian, Mr. Kunle Ajayi, said that if this Lawal can perpetuate this wicked act with PINE, “You can imagine the level of heist in other aspects of governance under his office.The guy is a mob boss not SGF.” And for Fida Gzama, until Nigerians realise that alphabet APC or PDP do not govern Nigeria but highly corrupt and wicked Nigerians no matter the party, nothing will change. This group of public office looters will still see us as noise makers, mumu and highly gullible set of human beings on earth.

Conclusion:
Even if these contracts were “awarded under the principle of emergency procurement stipulated in section 43 (i) and (ii) but absolute disregard for sub-section (iii) of the same section 43 of the Public Procurement Act,” it lacks understanding for human, especially those from the same North-East to constitute further problems, not minding the level of suffering by the people moreso the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or was it the case of “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

No matter what may, we are human and the plight of IDPs and attendance life challenges especially the food insecurity should be upper most in our minds, as Nigeria hope that Osibanjo’s panel will lead to full investigations by requisite agencies of government on this matter like the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).


Above all, the case of Lawal et all, should be a moral lesson for all serving and potential political office holders as summed up in the Eastern Nigerian adage that everyday could be for the thief but one day is for the owner.

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology