We can not gloss over the fact that food insecurity and malnutrition are disproportionately high in the northern parts of Nigeria. It was said that the area encompassing the Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states in the country’s northwest is experiencing a rising crisis of food insecurity and malnutrition. The protracted conflict and worsening poverty situation in the region have reportedly put millions of people at risk of food insecurity. Poor dietary habits are a major factor in the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation.
Moreover, approximately 8.4 million people in the northeast, including Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) states, are estimated to need humanitarian aid and protection due to a worsening food security scenario, as shown by preliminary findings from the current round of the Cadre Harmonisé (CH) study. With 2.53 million people already in need of dietary assistance, it is projected that this number will rise over the lean season. In tandem, the Mary Dinah Foundation, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established the Zero Hunger Programme to facilitate the provision of food and nutritional supplements.
Empowering women, girls is the key to transforming society.
Through this initiative, the foundation aims to cut down on preventable deaths and illnesses spurred on by malnutrition. In its more than 16 years of aggressive effort, it has made a considerable contribution to easing the food security and malnutrition crises in northeast Nigeria. The organization takes several different initiatives, including offering food, advocating for the exclusive breastfeeding of infants and young children, raising awareness about the need for personal cleanliness and sexual assault prevention, and encouraging the use of essential healthcare services. This programme provided supplemental nourishment and multivitamins to 4 million pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children under the age of 2 in need.
The programme’s involvement doubled its effort in 2022 to give 8 million meals annually to vulnerable populations, primarily women, girls, internally displaced people, and refugees, consisting of rice, beans, lentils, and vegetables. Mary Dinah, managing director of the Zero Hunger Programme, made a comment in which she reiterated her firm belief that empowering women and girls through education is the key to transforming society. In today’s contemporary world, families are the backbone of society; thus, this is crucial.
Goals of the program span multiple sectors, including health, others.
According to her, the foundation’s mission is far stretched to encompass safeguarding women and girls from gender-based violence and providing them with maternal health training and monitoring. Additionally, creating mother-to-mother support groups is another aspect of the program that focuses on encouraging the optimal feeding practices for infants and young children. Dinah remarked that despite the project’s impressive track record of improving so many people’s lives, its dedication to helping those in need remains unwavering.
While the primary goal of this project is to address malnutrition and food insecurity, it also includes a wide range of activities that span multiple sectors, including health (such as through recommendations to antenatal and routine immunization services) and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) (through hygiene promotion within the context of COVID-19). It also helps in demonstrating access points to case management for survivors of gender-based abuse. These initiatives strengthen women’s agencies and create a more cohesive community, all of which contribute to improved economic results.
10,881 people have received micronutrient supplements.
Nonetheless, the initiative has had a significant effect on the target areas, with 2,263 pregnant women connected to ante-natal care services and 652 children linked to regular vaccination programs. Micronutrient supplements have been given to a wide range of people, including 10,881 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and 7,198 children aged 6-24 months. So far, the Zero Hunger Programme has helped impoverished people get their hands on nutritious food, ensure their access to food, and create a sustainable food system.