In September 2021, USAID Advancing Nutrition began working to support USAID Nigeria in implementing its multi-sectoral nutrition strategy by working with the Government of Nigeria and a range of non-governmental and private sector stakeholders. The goal of this work is to identify, design, and implement interventions to overcome challenges related to undernutrition, especially wasting, and consumption of healthy diets, while also ensuring strong nutrition capacities, competencies and leadership within the targeted five states of: Kebbi, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Bauchi, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In an effort to maximize strengths across the USAID Advancing Nutrition consortium, our activities in Nigeria, led by Helen Keller International, also engage the experts and expertise of several USAID Advancing Nutrition partners, including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Africa Nutrition Leadership Project (ANLP) at Northwest University, and Save the Children.
As the project is coming to a close, the USAID Advancing Nutrition team in Nigeria, in collaboration with its partners and the USAID Mission, hosted a 2-day Dissemination and Reflection Workshop in Abuja Nigeria that was attended by over 125 people. The participants included a wide range of stakeholders, such as the USAID Mission, Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, USAID implementing partners, International Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, United Nations Agencies, UNICEF, WFP, research institutions, and academia.
Several critical topics were addressed including the pressing issue of malnutrition and the overarching goal of achieving a well-nourished and stable nation. Challenges related to the implementation of nutrition strategies were also explored, along with potential solutions.
The first day of the Workshop focused on disseminating key approaches used to promote multi-sectoral nutrition, improve food systems, engage youth, and address key challenges associated with wasting, including promoting use of local foods to treat wasting. Ms. Heather Danton, the Global Project Director for USAID Advancing Nutrition, provided welcoming remarks along with a number of other dignitaries, including the Chairperson of the Permanent Secretary and Chairperson of the National Committee on Food and Nutrition from the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, Director of Nutrition from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Director of Nutrition from the Federal Ministry of Health and a representative from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
The first day highlighted USAID Advancing Nutrition Nigeria's achievements, lessons learned, challenges, and opportunities for future scaling. The project team presented research findings, including: adolescent formative research, consumer demand assessment, strengthening multi-sectoral coordination and leadership, and wasting consultations, which were followed by a Q&A session. Insights from these sessions will help guide efficient and cost-effective nutrition programming.
JSI’s International Division Director, Ms. Kate Onyejekwe, was also in attendance and provided closing remarks, thanking our colleagues at USAID for their support and involvement over the past 2 years and making note of the outstanding progress that state-wide efforts have made toward identifying and addressing gaps in services that are needed to improve nutrition outcomes.
The second day of the workshop featured reflections from leaders of the State Committees on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) as well as from the USAID Nigeria lead for nutrition, Mr. Ebenezer Oluloto. The focus of the second day was to assess the effectiveness, impact, and outcomes of the existing nutrition strategy. This assessment aimed to determine whether the strategy had successfully achieved its intended goals and objectives.
Over 100 attendees broke into working groups to reflect on accomplishments and outstanding needs associated with five key areas of work - Food systems, Health Systems, Humanitarian Assistance, Enabling Environment and Cross-cutting Elements, and Private sector Engagement.
Under the theme of Food System improvement, recommendations were made to strengthen linkages among actors in the food sector, support initiatives like homestead, school, and local gardening, and collaborate with the government to ensure the availability of affordable, nutritious food. Additionally, there was a call for proper labelling and regulation of unhealthy food advertisements.
Within the Health Systems theme, the need to enhance accountability, funding mechanisms, and budgeting processes in the health sector was identified as a priority.
Regarding Humanitarian Assistance, there was a proposal to ensure adequate follow-up of malnutrition program beneficiaries and the potential provision of additional food commodities after program implementation. Stronger collaboration, communication with the government, and effective community engagement were also emphasized.
The theme of creating an enabling environment and addressing cross-cutting elements involved recommendations for strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems at both national and local levels. Engagement with all target audiences was highlighted as essential.
Furthermore, the private sector group promoted participation in the National Fortification Alliance (NFA) programs to enhance nutrition scaling at national and state levels. They advocated for increased engagement between the private sector and healthcare entities to drive behavioural change and acceptance. Additionally, they called for regular biannual meetings between the private sector and government stakeholders through the NFA.
In the next steps, the USAID Mission will utilize these recommendations to inform decision-making. This may involve adjustments to the current strategy, the planning of future programs, and the reallocation of resources to align with the identified priorities and opportunities.