Metro

March 30, 2023

UNICEF, UK partner to save children in Northeast 

Unicef

By Biodun Busari 

The United Kingdom, through its Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have collaborated to institute a humanitarian intervention to save children in the Northeast terrorism-laden region of Nigeria. 

The project is called the Multisectoral Integrated Nutrition Action (MINA) is implemented by UNICEF and other partners in 24 Local Government Areas of Borno and Yobe states till March 2025.

It was designed as a humanitarian intervention aimed at offering integrated food, nutrition sanitation and protection services in Nigeria’s north-east region will empower over 300,000 mothers and caregivers. 

In a statement, on Wednesday, in Abuja, by the UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, the intervention was designed to enhance dietary practices, home-based malnutrition screening skills, provision of high impact lifesaving nutrition interventions (such as early identification and referral of acute malnutrition cases for treatment), and micronutrients supplementation to prevent infections among children. 

These interventions are aimed at improving the survival of children affected by conflict with approximately 1 in 4 children aged 12-23 months not vaccinated, the north-east region has one of the highest numbers of unvaccinated children in Nigeria, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and National Immunization Coverage Survey (MICS-NICS 2021).

Data from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM 2021) reveals that four per cent of the population in Borno and two per cent in Yobe have access to safely managed drinking water. 

It also disclosed that up to 1.1 million people across the region still practice open defecation, a risk factor for malnutrition and stunting in children.

“The UNICEF is grateful for the support of the FCDO to invest early in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the world. It is heartwarming that through the capacity building and empowerment approach of this project, thousands of children will benefit from the intervention in the long term. 

“The project leverages a bouquet of essential services and community structures to provide integrated essential services for children, including birth registration and immunisation services, nutrition counselling, cash transfer support, establishment of vegetable gardens, market-based sanitation and hygiene interventions, mothers’ groups, nutrition mobilisers and WASH Committees.

“Critically, the highly successful mother-led Mid-Upper Arm Circumference programme is being expanded while roving midwives will be deployed to hard-to-reach areas to improve the nutrition status and overall wellbeing of the most disadvantaged children.

“The first 1000 days of life of a child is an unmatched window of opportunity. UNICEF is grateful for the support of the FCDO to invest early in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the world,’’ said Munduate.

“It is heartwarming that through the capacity building and empowerment approach of this project, thousands of children will benefit from this intervention in the long term,’’ added Munduate.