The Ebonyi State government and UNICEF have committed to ending hidden hunger in the state. Ebonyi is one of the states in Nigeria with a high level of malnutrition among the children.
Hidden hunger is hunger that is not seen in the body. It’s a sort of deficiency in some components of food that does not necessarily contribute to weight or height but rather contributes to the ability to defend against illnesses in one’s body.
Stakeholders say the malnutrition cases are aggravated by the negative effects of communal crises between the state and its neighbouring Benue and Cross River states.
At the flag-off of the first hidden hunger conference in Abakaliki, the state capital, with the theme, “collaborative solution to hidden hunger: Stakeholders engagement, advocacy and innovation for sustainable development, Olusoji Akinleye, a health specialist and officer in charge of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, applauded the commitment of Ebonyi State government to ending hidden hunger. He described hidden hunger as “very challenging, with devastating effects on society.”
He reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to assist the state in achieving a sustainable food and nutrition system that works for all.
Soji explained that hidden hunger was due to micronutrient deficiency, which does not produce hunger as we know it but strikes at the core of one’s health and vitality”.
The degree of this hidden hunger according to him is about 1- in 4 unfortunately; it is about 25 percent in Ebonyi state.
“The theme of this meeting is timely and is in line with the global development agenda, the sustainable development goals which clearly states that “by 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.”
“UNICEF is committed to partnering with Ebonyi State and with other relevant partners and stakeholders to achieve this agenda.
“We urge Ebonyi State government and partners to ensure that we leave no child behind and we continue to take care of our future now by taking care of women and children.
Governor Francis Nwifuru, represented by the deputy governor of the state, Patricia Obilia, while flagging off the conference, said “The data on the indicators and causes of malnutrition, contained in the documents submitted by the State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) and found most alarming, the devastation malnutrition has caused on our people.
“This is unacceptable to me, and that is the reason I have endorsed the domesticated National Policy on Food and Nutrition, and the State Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action on Food and Nutrition, to demonstrate the resolve of my administration to wage total war against all forms of malnutrition in the state.