Worried about the high incidence of malnutrition among children below the age of five, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote through his Foundation is embarking on a mission to reduce the prevalence of undernutrition by 60 percent in the North East and North West of Nigeria.
The Aliko Dangote Foundation’s Managing Director and CEO Zouera Youssoufou made the pledge on behalf of the Foundation at the just concluded Global Nutrition Summit held in Milan. Italy.
Youssoufou disclosed the plan of the Foundation to invest US$100 Million over five years to tackle malnutrition in the worst-affected parts of Nigeria.
According to the CEO, “Nigeria’s high malnutrition rate is undermining progress towards improving child health and survival and putting the brakes on economic development”. She noted further, “by investing in nutrition, we aim to directly improve the lives of Nigerian families and to empower our citizens to reach their full potential”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) note that though Malnutrition affects every country in the world in various forms, however Africa is particularly hard hit and Nigeria is home to the highest numbers of malnourished children.
According to UNICEF, almost half of the one million children who die before the age of five every year in Nigeria, die of malnutrition as the underlying cause.
It noted also that the first 1, 000 days of life starting from conception to second birthday of every child is most crucial and without the proper nutrients, children are less likely to survive childhood diseases such as malaria and pneumonia, and are less likely to escape poverty as adults.
They become physically and cognitively stunted, a fate that has befallen 11 million of Nigeria’s children under five.
The Global Nutrition Report 2017, launched at the Summit, showed that, in spite of progress, 155 million children globally are still stunted and the world is off track on meeting internationally agreed nutrition targets. Financing to tackle malnutrition has been alarmingly low. Donors spend about 0.5 percent of overseas aid on nutrition, and countries allocate between one and two percent of their health budgets to the issue.
Speaking also at the summit, Kofi Annan, speaking at the summit in his capacity as Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation noted, “The global malnutrition crisis endangers the physical and mental wellbeing of present and future generations”.
The former UN Secretary General added, “The global malnutrition crisis endangers the physical and mental wellbeing of present and future generations”.
He pointed out, “Progress in tackling both undernutrition and obesity is possible with targeted commitments, like those made here today. We need further urgent investments so that people, communities and nations can reach their full potential”.
By making this unprecedented $100m commitment, the Aliko Dangote Foundation now becomes the strongest voice for nutritional leadership nationally and on the continent of Africa.