Nigeria ranks among the top countries with high number of malnourished children in Africa, surpassing Ethiopia, Managing Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Tim Prewitt, has said.
He said this yesterday in Abuja at a forum of USAID/Maximizing Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites (MARKETS) family nutritional support programme which started in 2008.
The MARKETS was to address food insecurity and malnutrition in orphans and vulnerable children households through direct distribution of food supplements and enterprise nutrition and homestead skills for care givers.
Prewitt said more than one billion people, nearly one-sixth of the World's population, suffer from chronic hunger, with 3.5 million children dying every year. He said the number of stunted children in the world will be 450 million in the next 15 years.
Speaking, the Programme Manager of the project, Bassey Archibong said that malnutrition in Nigeria is a growing problem which is strongly linked to social and economic issues.
Archibong said: "Nigeria has more malnourished children than Ethiopia. States in northern Nigeria have the highest numbers of malnourished children in the country. Also, orphans and vulnerable children whose families have been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition.
"Nearly 1.2 million children in Nigeria are orphaned as a result of AIDS, and more others are vulnerable because their families are affected by HIV/AIDS."
He said that over 70,000 malnourished orphans and vulnerable children have been reached.
He said that care givers from orphans and malnourished children households who participated in the training, gained practical cross cutting skills in micro enterprise nutrition and homestead farming.
"As a result, participants now understand the relationship between income and nutrition, which is critical to ending the cycle of poverty and malnutrition. Sixty percent of participants reported savings for the first time while 77 percent of care givers now have homestead farms up by 24 percent from what it was before training," he said.
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