The 9th Quarterly meeting of the Secretaries to Government of the APC States (SGSs) held on Thursday, April 30, 2020, via teleconference. SGSs of APC States and other representatives of states were in attendance. Members of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee also attended. The theme of the meeting is Developing Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in APC States.
The main objective of the teleconference meeting was to review the details of the framework on promoting child nutrition in the APC States and provide necessary guidance to enhance the development of common policy initiatives in APC States and effective engagement of all stakeholders on issues of child malnutrition.
Mr. Adewale Ajadi, Director Africa Practice, Synergos,presented the Keynote Address on Issues and Challenges of Child Nutrition in the APC States. The Keynote Address identified challenges and dynamics of formulating and implementing child nutrition interventions in the country. Recognising that Covid-19 has further added more problems to the crisis of child nutrition in the country, he highlighted policy recommendations for the considerations of the SGSs of APC States.
Members of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee comprising non-partisan and committed experts and scholars on economic development and social welfare facilitated the meeting.
II. Opening Session
Governor of Plateau State HE Simon Bako Lalong, Co-Chairmen of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee declared the meeting open. HE Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Governor of Jigawa State and also Co-Chairman of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee sent his apology. While opening the meeting, HE Lalong highlighted the following:• Widespread crisis of child malnutrition among children under five years of age in Nigeria and the associated wasting, stunting, low cognitive ability among children, and the resultant low earning capabilities after they have become adults. • 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.• Emphasised the determination of APC Governors to put the issue of child nutrition on the front burner and develop an enduring framework that will not only address the challenge of child nutrition within the shortest time possible but also ensure that access to food by all vulnerable households is reasonably guaranteed at all times.• Affirm the commitment of the APC Governors to initiate coordinated action and partnerships with critical stakeholders, including the Federal Government, the National and State Assemblies, development partners, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector. • Call the Secretaries to APC State Governments to broaden and share understanding of the issues related to child nutrition in the respective APC States while deepening the scope of interventions that will bring beneficial outcomes.
Having welcomed participants and facilitators and applauded the PGF Secretariat for organising the teleconference despite the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, on behalf of the PGF, the Co-Chairman expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government for the sustained support it has provided State Governments since 2015 and called for stronger partnership to develop common policy initiatives on promoting child nutrition in the country, particularly in these challenging times.
The PGF Co-Chairman urged all the Secretaries to APC State Governments to examine current approaches and other global experiences and come up with practical and actionable plans that will assist the Governments of APC states to fast track policy formulation and implementation, as well as the critical issues of resource mobilisation towards eradicating child malnutrition in the APC States.
III. Technical Session
After exhaustive deliberations, the meeting made the following observations:
Challenges of Child Nutrition in the APC States1. Child nutrition is critical to the development of the nation’s human capital in terms of building the capacity of children to grow, develop and learn to their full potential;2. It is vital to holistically address the question of child nutrition in all its dimensions by considering it as a governance yardstick;3. All stakeholders should consider the impacts of COVID-19 on child nutrition now and after the lockdown;
Review of Current Initiatives4. The Home-Grown School Feeding and Health Programme launched by the Federal Government in September 2015 under the coordination of the Federal Ministry of Education has ensured that school children get a nutritionally adequate meal during the school day;5. Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) currently has over 495 community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) sites across Northern Nigeria;6. Some APC states are complimenting the Home-Grown school Feeding and Health Programme to make sure more pupils and classes are fed in schools. These states include Jigawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Edo, Osun, Nasarawa, etc. who have variants of the School Feeding programme to complement the FG’s programme; 7. Kaduna, Lagos, and Ekiti have introduced six months (180 days) maternity leave for female workers in the state public service to encourage nursing mothers to observe the six months exclusive breastfeeding aimed at reducing to the barest minimum, child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. Breast milk provides the right balance of nutrients. In addition, Lagos has 2 weeks paternity leave for men whose wives give birth.
Addressing the Challenge8. Increasing investment in child nutrition is essential to ensure good health and nutrition of children that will accelerate the attainment of the UN-SDGs and zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030, within the shortest time;9. Synergy formed between and within the APC States with shared objectives, as well as coordinated actions with critical stakeholders can improve the value, quality, expansion, and sustainability of interventions in child nutrition;10. 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;11. 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; and12. Child nutrition begins from pregnancy, so there is the need to make sure that pregnant women eat well as this is critical to delivering healthy babies.
Accordingly, the meeting made the following recommendations for consideration/implementation by the APC States should consider the following: a. 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. b. Engage concertedly with critical stakeholders to explore cross-sectoral opportunities for child nutrition interventions at all levels.c. 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. d. 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. e. 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.f. Have a collective meeting with Development partners that would essentially focus on domestication of FG and PGF policies on child nutrition in each APC state.g. Enhance sensitisation, awareness, enlightenment, education, and other complementary activities, particularly at community levels on child nutrition and related issues. h. 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). i. Explore ways to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme and make accountability part of its implementation in the APC States.j. Create a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on policies, implementation challenges and gaps as well as sustainability and 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.k. Accordingly, the meeting adopted a proposed framework for Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in APC States for the consideration of Progressive Governors.
V. Appreciation and Conclusion
The meeting agreed to continually share information, ideas and knowledge through its quarterly meetings and the PGF Secretariat to promote synergy across the member States and facilitate greater cooperation for uniform/common policy initiatives geared towards sustainable development.
HE Simon Bako Lalong HE Mohammed Badaru Abubakar
Governor, Plateau State & Co-Chairman Governor, Jigawa State & Co-Chairman
PGF Governance Prog. Steering CommitteePGF Governance Prog. Steering Committee2