In a move to save 11 million stunted children under the age of five, the World Bank has committed a sum of $350 million to fight chronic malnutrition in Nigeria for the next five years. Presently, the country has a stunting rate of 31.5% in 2015, which is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the second highest in the world. While nine of the North-east and North-west states have rates of child stunting that exceeds 50 per cent, which was well above the highest rates of malnutrition in countries in Africa. Speaking at the high-level consultative meeting with States on accelerating nutrition result in Nigeria (ANRiN) project, World Bank Representative, Ms. Luc Laviollete, said the project was aimed at reducing child stunting, in order to improve learning ability, school performance and lifetime productivity of Nigerians. She noted that the specific development objective was to expand utilisation of quality, cost effective nutrition services for women of reproductive age and children under two years in select areas in Nigeria. “The project would be financed through a $350 million loan from the World Bank. Additional technical assistance may be financed from other development partners, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dangote Foundation and the Power of Nutrition.,” Laviollete added. However, aside this, participating states are expected to commit N50 million counterparts funding for a period of five years. Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said it is a well-established fact that as an underlying cause of death, malnutrition accounts for more than 50% of under-five mortality in Nigeria. The minister who was represented by the Director, Family Health Department, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi noted that Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under-five year of age every day and malnutrition accounts for more than half of these deaths. To this end, he said, it was therefore obvious that the country cannot be seriously think about reducing under- five mortality without addressing malnutrition.

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