UK, UNICEF launch new live-saving initiative for North-East children

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have launched a new lifesaving programme for children in Nigeria’s North-East.

UNICEF announced the initiative on Wednesday, March 29, in a statement it mailed to The ICIR.

The humanitarian intervention focuses on providing integrated food, nutrition, sanitation and protection services, UNICEF said.

The Multisectoral Integrated Nutrition Action (MINA) project is being implemented by UNICEF and other partners in 24 Local Government Areas of Borno, and Yobe states till March 2025.

“The intervention aims to enhance dietary practices, home-based malnutrition screening skills, provision of high impact lifesaving nutrition interventions (such as early identification and referral of acute malnutrition cases for treatment), and micronutrient supplementation to prevent infections among children. These interventions are aimed at improving the survival of children affected by conflict.”

UNICEF noted that the initiative would empower over 300,000 mothers and caregivers. 

Quoting the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and National Immunization Coverage Survey (MICS-NICS 2021), the agency explained that with approximately one in four children aged 12-23 months not vaccinated, the North-East region has one of the highest numbers of unvaccinated children in Nigeria.

“Data from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM 2021) shows that four per cent of the population in Borno and two per cent in Yobe have access to safely managed drinking water. Up to 1.1 million people across the region still practice open defecation, a risk factor for malnutrition and stunting in children.

“The project leverages a bouquet of essential services and community structures to provide integrated essential services for children, including birth registration and immunisation services, nutrition counselling, cash transfer support, the establishment of vegetable gardens, market-based sanitation and hygiene interventions, mothers’ groups, nutrition mobilisers and WASH Committees.”



    UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said the first 1000 days of a child’s life required much attention and investments which the initiative would provide. 

    “It is heartwarming that through the capacity building and empowerment approach of this project, thousands of children will benefit from this intervention in the long term,’’ Munduate noted.

     The ICIR reports that the North-East has faced an over-a-decade security crisis arising from scores of attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents.

    The crisis reportedly displaced about a million people, orphaned hundreds of children, and caused high-scale destruction of infrastructures, including schools, hospitals and power sources.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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