BusinessDay

Nutrition: Can Nigeria achieve any of the SDGs? (2)

Nutrition is an essential component of accomplishing many of the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In Africa, little progress has been made towards the achievement of the SDGs. Food insecurity affects one out of every three Africans, and Africa is home to more than half of the world’s impoverished (those who earn less than the international poverty line of $1.90 PPP per day).

According to the report, an additional 60 million Africans might be forced into poverty, with food insecurity doubling. It is also estimated that 110 million African children and youth are out of school; frail healthcare systems are being put under strain, and women are at risk of being further marginalised.

Several socioeconomic variables promote poor nutrition, including food insecurity caused by poverty and war (SDG 1). Poverty restricts access to enough food and makes it harder to follow dietary guidelines.

In addition, the lower socio-educational classes’ preferential consumption of low-quality foods (energy-dense and nutrient-poor) could be influenced by a lack of access to and affordability of higher-quality foods, among other factors.

Furthermore, the difficulties connected with conflict: pests and diseases, natural calamities, biodiversity loss, habitat damage; economic obstacles (unemployment); and the continuing deadly consequences of COVID-19 contribute significantly to poverty and poor dietary habits of people in the country.

According to reports, the global COVID-19 pandemic has generated a humanitarian and economic disaster, putting the SDGs in danger and jeopardising several efforts put in place over the years in achieving the set goals.

In the northeast part of Nigeria, the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram destroys infrastructure and carries out assassinations and kidnappings, posing a severe threat to the country. This, in effect, has resulted in the disruption of agricultural and income-generating activities in the region. Also, the battle between the herdsmen and farmers has aggravated the food insecurity issues in the country. This violence has resulted in a decrease in household purchasing power and food access.

Several global and regional efforts have been made to boost nutrition and agricultural activities in the country. Among these are the National Food and Nutrition Policy (NNFP) in 2016. The NFNP established a framework for tackling food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria at all levels: individual, household, community, and national. Stunting, wasting, maternal anemia, and adult and teenage obesity are vital priorities, boosting exclusive breastfeeding rates. National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (2019-2020). This builds on the previously established procedures of action.

Read also: Nutrition: Can Nigeria achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals?

In addition, among the primary policy concerns of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari during his second term is the battle against corruption, increasing security, addressing unemployment, diversifying the economy, enhancing climate resilience, and raising Nigerians’ living standards.

Despite all the efforts put in place, with approximately 49 percentage points in SDGs achievement, Nigeria ranked 160 out of 165 United Nations member states considered in 2021.

Therefore, achieving sustainable development goals is unrealistic with the global economic situation and Nigeria’s present economic turbulence. Achieving the SDGs is like a mirage that seems blurred, unachievable, and unattainable. This is because most of the sustainable development goals are connected, and the achievement of one goal depends on the level of the landmark achievement made by the other, and poverty, the SDG 1, is one of the root causes of malnutrition in the country.

In conclusion, for Nigeria, the most populous country and the giant of Africa, to achieve any of her sustainable development goals, efforts must be geared towards addressing the nutrition and dietary intake of individuals in the country, with particular reference to the poor and those living in rural areas.

Busayo Aderounmu is an economist and researcher.

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