About one million malnourished Nigerian children are to be granted access to proper feeding under a programme initiated by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) to reach vulnerable families across the country.
The Foundation announced on Monday in Abuja that the initiative aimed at complementing and boost the Federal Government’s effort in tackling the problem of malnutrition in the country would start immediately.
Through the programme, more than half of the over two million children the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says suffer from malnutrition in Nigeria would be fed regularly.
The Fund said malnutrition is not only a direct or underlying cause of 45 percent of all deaths of children under five, but also the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 37 per cent of children under five.
The UN agency stated on its website that an estimated two million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), with only two out of every 10 affected children currently reached with treatment.
Also, seven percent of women of childbearing age, the agency said, suffer from acute malnutrition, with the first 1,000 days of a child’s life offer a unique window of opportunity for preventing under-nutrition and its consequences.
To reverse the negative trend, the Aliko Dangote Foundation said its Chairman and Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, said announced a commitment to contribute to the national effort to combat the problem.
“We recognize nutrition as a cross-cutting issue affecting other critical development goals. That is why nutrition has become our core focus.
“We want to reach one million malnourished children in Nigeria, and we know that for every dollar invested in nutrition, the nation as a whole will reap huge economic dividends.
“In addition, we shall reach households of children with SAM and their communities that contribute the most to the SAM burden with food security, cash-based interventions and livelihoods support, engendered infant and young child feeding, hygiene and care-seeking behaviours,” the Foundation said in a statement.
The Aliko Dangote Foundation is the private charitable foundation of Aliko Dangote, incorporated in 1994 with the mission to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education, and broaden economic empowerment opportunities.
Within the 27 years the organization has been in operation, the Foundation says it has become the largest private Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest endowment by a single African donor.
The ADF said its primary focus was child nutrition, with wrap-around interventions centered on health, education and empowerment, and disaster relief.
The Foundation also supports stand-alone projects with the potential for significant social impact.
Under its Aliko Dangote Foundation Integrated Nutrition Programme (ADFIN), the
Foundation in 2016 announced its intention to launch a community-based nutrition programme, various components of which have been implemented with some interest groups.
“The intent has always been to use proven interventions linked to social and behaviour change, promotion of fortification of staple foods with essential micronutrients, community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM), using ready to use therapeutic foods (RUFT) and nutritious foods,” the Foundation said.