Though Nigeria has the second largest economy in Africa, it also has the third highest number of severely malnourished children in the world: approximately 26% of children under five years old—more than a million children— suffer from malnutrition. In 2010, the Ministry of Health developed national guidelines for nutritional treatment with support from Action Against Hunger.
We are focused on helping both national agencies and local communities build capacity to treat deadly malnutrition. In our second year of operation in Nigeria, we trained some 1,000 public health workers and equipped and supported 200 health centers, ensuring that 12,000 severely malnourished people received lifesaving care. We also responded to emergencies: when a food crisis swept through the Sahel region in 2011 and 2012, we assisted tens of thousands of Nigerians.
Access to safe, clean water
In addition to treating malnutrition, we are tackling its root causes. More than half of Nigerians do not have access to safe water and proper sanitation. Since waterborne diseases are linked to malnutrition, we support community-based sanitation projects. In addition to supporting local groups, we are partnering with Nigeria’s Rural Water and Sanitation Agency to rehabilitate broken down water points. We are also investing $200,000 to construct latrines, wells, underground reservoirs of clean water for health centers, and more.
Improving food security
Another cause of malnutrition is food insecurity. In northern Nigeria, widespread poverty, volatile food prices, and recurring food shortages have left an estimated 800,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition. In March of 2013, we began an initiative called the Child Development Grant Program, which aims to provide support for 60,000 vulnerable households through monthly cash grants over the next five years. This program is a part of our integrated approach to malnutrition treatment, which aims to create sustainable solutions to hunger in Nigeria.