Having good nutrition is an important factor of living a fulfilled and disease-free life. However, this is not achievable if hunger is in the picture. Despite the increase in agricultural produce in some countries, majority of the citizens still do not have enough to eat and this leads to malnutrition which makes individuals prone to diseases. It is therefore, not a surprise that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has as its number two goal, the need to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
“Zero Hunger” as it is smartly called, focuses on ending hunger and ensuring that food security is achieved through the strengthening of the agricultural sector of the member states. Also, the government of each state is expected to develop programmes and initiatives which are targeted at ensuring good nutrition and sustainable agriculture in their states.
Hunger is a global challenge, especially in the developing countries. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016. Almost all the hungry people, 780 million, live in developing countries, representing 12.9 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties and there are 11 million people who are undernourished in developed countries.
UNICEF reports that ‘Child nutrition in Nigeria has improved in recent years, but around 11 million children under the age of five are stunted. There are regional and social disparities, with particularly high levels of stunting in the north-east and north-west and among the poorest quintile. Stunting is what happens to a child’s brain and body when they don’t get the right kind of food or nutrients in their first 1,000 days of life. It is irreversible.’
Extreme hunger and malnutrition are factors which can affect the sustainable growth and development of any nation. A nation which has a high number of hungry citizens will face development problems because the productive level of the citizens will be reduced.
The Nigerian government, the United Nations system in Nigeria and other stakeholders are working together to achieve the targets under the SDG 2. For this initiative, global partners, former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and major stakeholders of SDGs had a deliberation in April 2016 on ways to achieve Zero Hunger in Nigeria and African continent by 2030. A committee was later set up at the end of the meeting to ensure that the deliberations are carried out. This led to the formation of the Zero Hunger Initiative.
In October 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria started the school feeding programme. This was done under the programme “National Home Grown School Feeding” programme which involves feeding of the 5.5million pupils in public primary schools in Nigeria. The programme is also designed to improve agriculture in Nigeria.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations also provided aid to farmers who have been displaced by bombings and killings in North East Nigeria. FAO provided the farmers with vegetables and tons of fertilizers to encourage vegetable farming which can provide the IDPs with good nutrients such as minerals and vitamins.
Similarly, the World Food Programmes (WFP) provides cash assistance in the form of money credited electronically to mobile phones. The spending helps to stimulate local markets, prevent and treat child malnutrition; children under the age of five receive a highly nutritious, peanut-based supplement, while pregnant and nursing women receive nutritional support. At the individual level, backyard farming/ subsistence farming should be encouraged. No peace of land around the house, however small, should be left fallow.
To achieve ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030 all hands must be on the deck.
Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)