UN agencies boost capacities, strengthen partnerships to improve nutrition in northeastern Nigeria

Humanitarian actors supporting conflict-affected communities in northeastern Nigeria recently completed a three-day workshop on improving coordination and accountability for enhanced nutrition among crisis-affected populations in the Region. 

Supported by the Government of Nigeria, and under the aegis of the Inter-cluster Nutrition Working Group (ICNWG), the event was organised by the Global Nutrition Cluster and the Global Food Security Sector Cluster and took place in Maiduguri from 31 July to 2 August, 2018. 

The ICNWG had identified the limited capacity of humanitarian actors in designing nutrition-sensitive interventions as a barrier to improved nutrition among at-risk groups. Stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height) are rife among children in the northeast. According to government estimates, about 43 percent of children under five years are stunted across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. An estimated 440 000 children between 6 to 59 months are acutely malnourished across the three states. 

During the workshop, 40 participants from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and various sectors such as Food Security and Livelihoods, Nutrition, Health, WASH, Protection, Education, and Early Childhood Development, deliberated on the causes and solutions to improving nutrition in the Region.

Participants discussed how the various sectors can contribute to tackling the basic and underlying causes of poor nutrition. Supporting the production of diverse nutritious food, providing clean water and sanitation for families and health facilities, preventing and treating diarrheal disease and increasing the exclusive breastfeeding of children under 6 months were among some of the solutions discussed.

Participants also pledged to join efforts towards improved nutrition in northeastern Nigeria and began the process of developing an integrated action plan and monitoring and evaluation framework for mainstreaming nutrition programmes across the sectors.  

While closing the three-day workshop, Global Nutrition Cluster Coordinator Josephine Ippe called for leveraging of the roles of the different sectors and for groups to work more closely together to improve nutrition. The Global Cluster Coordinator (GCC) for Food Security, Bruno Minjauw, called on partners to advance new ways of working that capitalize on the comparative advantages of all agencies.

Nigeria is the second country to benefit from this training, the first field-test was carried out in Ethiopia in June 2018. More countries are expected to benefit from the programme in the upcoming months. 

The ICNWG is a working group of the Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) led by UNICEF, while the Global Food Security Cluster (GFSC) is co-led by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The ICNWG was established in 2012 with a mandate to safeguard and improve the nutritional status of crisis-affected populations.