By Ndidi Chukwu
Nigeria has the potential to reduce extreme poverty by 33 percent if it invests in interventions to address Malnutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed.
The agency added that malnourished children have zero potential to contribute to the economy.
“Nigeria’s economy could grow rapidly if there is political will to address malnutrition and its causes, any economy where 50 percent of the children are malnurished- stunted, wasted or suffer from micronutrients deficiency- is economically doomed” said UNICEF’s nutrition expert, Dr. Bamidele Omotola, who stated this at a two-day media dialogue on Malnutrition in Adamawa State.
Omotola who spoke on “Investing in child malnutrition for the future”, said “If Nigeria overcomes the menace of malnutrition, 33 percent of poor people will get out of extreme poverty and give their own children a better chance at life.”
According to him, investing in children’s nutrition offers some of the greatest opportunities for social and economic change adding: “For every dollar invested in reducing stunting among children in Africa, there’s a return on investment of $16, while also preventing nearly half of child mortality and increasing school attainment by at least one year.”
Also speaking at the dialogue, the Head of Nigeria’s Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB), Olumide Osanyinpeju, said improved nutrition is key to attaining national and human development, but can only be achieved when citizens are aware of the dangers of malnutrition.
He said: “Addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved, therefore investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition.
The experts called for investment to ensure food security and end extreme hunger by 2030, the second goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).