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Aliko Dangote Foundation tasks faith leaders on addressing malnutrition, hunger in Nigeria

L-R: Temitope Hassan, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc; Ravindra Singhvi, Group Managing Director/CEO; Mariya Aliko Dangote, Executive Director; and Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, at the Company’s 18th Annual General Meeting, in Lagos       Photo: Dangote Group

*The Aliko Dangote Foundation emphasises the significance of faith-based groups in Nigeria’s agenda for improving nutrition and human capital development in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) has underscored the pivotal role of religious and traditional institutions in tackling the pressing issues of malnutrition and hunger in Nigeria.

Mrs. Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), stated this while speaking at an event the National Council on Nutrition and the World Bank-Assisted Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria Project organised and held in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, FCT, recently.

ConsumerConnect reports the aim of the forum was to facilitate the sharing of insights, best practices, and innovative solutions among faith leaders to drive progress in nutrition and human capital enhancement in Nigeria.

It equally called for unity transcending religious divides to work towards a healthier, more prosperous nation.

The CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation emphasised the significance of faith-based groups in the national agenda for improving nutrition and human capital development in Nigeria.

Dangote Group, in a statement Sunday, May 5, 2024, also noted during the high-level dialogue on nutrition with the theme, “Faith Leaders as Catalysts for Enhanced Human Capital Through Nutrition”, Mrs. Youssoufou highlighted that nutrition goes beyond mere sustenance.

According to her, the concept is about nurturing the body, mind and spirit. She also opined that adequate nutrition forms the cornerstone of human capital development.

The Managing Director of ADF further painted a grim picture of the situation in Nigeria, where malnutrition significantly hampers the country’s progress.

She noted that children are particularly vulnerable, suffering from stunted growth, cognitive impairments, and increased susceptibility to diseases due to inadequate nutrition.

The consequences of malnutrition extend beyond physical health to affect educational achievements, economic productivity, and overall well-being, said Mrs. Youssoufou

She stated that urgent and concerted action from all sectors of society is imperative to address this crisis.

Mrs. Youssoufou also highlighted the unique position of faith leaders, with their grassroots reach and influence in driving a positive change in nutrition.

She also stressed their teachings on compassion, justice, and stewardship could inspire individuals to prioritise good nutrition, support vulnerable populations, and advocate policies promoting food security.

By leveraging the collective power of faith communities, therefore, Mrs. Youssoufou proposed fostering a culture of health and wellness that values nutritious diets, breastfeeding, and access to essential nutrients.

She suggested educational programmes, awareness campaigns, and community engagement to empower individuals to make informed dietary choices.

Besides, Mrs. Youssoufou examined the role of faith leaders as advocates for policy changes to address systemic barriers to good nutrition, such as food insecurity and inequitable access to healthcare services.

According to her, through advocacy for greater investment in nutrition-sensitive programmes, they can create an enabling environment for improving health outcomes nationwide.

The role of faith, traditional leaders in improved nutrition, by VP Shettima

Also speaking at the forum, Vice President Kashim Shettima, who was the host of the event, stressed the indispensable role of both faith and traditional leaders in improving nutrition within their communities in the West African country.

Shettima said: “Your influence is indispensable. We believe that regardless of the quality of ideas we bring to the table, our efforts will fall short without your participation and endorsement.”

The Vice-President averred that Nigeria’s future readiness hinges not just on food abundance but also on the nourishing quality of its food supply.

He also stated: “We must proclaim to the world that our commitment to producing food of unparalleled richness is not rhetoric.”

Shettima equally noted that the “gathering is a solemn pledge to safeguard our well-being and preserve the legacy of generations yet to come.”

He also restated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s commitment to prioritising nutrition as part of Nigeria’s food security drive.

Earlier, Atiku Bagudu, Honourable Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, said malnutrition and related challenges, over the years, had negatively impacted human capital development, requiring accelerated interventions.

Bagudu described the efforts and interventions of the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President, and the engagement with faith-based leaders as testimonies that Nigeria has the institutional mechanism to combat hunger and malnutrition with their associated challenges.

In his remarks at the event, Prof. Muhammad Pate, Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, said the engagement with faith-based leaders was not just a dialogue but a clarion call for action to address one of society’s most disturbing challenges.

Prof. Pate urged religious and traditional leaders in Nigeria to leverage their network and influence in society to support the government in combating hunger and malnutrition.

The Minister described faith-based leaders as the backbone of their communities, hence their importance in improving the nutritional outcomes in their various domains.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Daniel Okoh, also pledged the commitment of their communities and congregations to the efforts at combating hunger and malnutrition in the country.

The leaders stated that their presence at the event underscored their loyalty to the campaign.

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