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Millions face malnutrition as untouched matching fund expires Dec 31

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has raised concern about states failing to access counterpart funding for nutrition expected to expire by December 31.…

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has raised concern about states failing to access counterpart funding for nutrition expected to expire by December 31.

CISLAC monitoring and evaluation officer, Lovelyn Agbor-Gabriel, said state commitment to funding nutrition has been uncertain this year despite promise of matching fund from donors.

“Some of the states that willingly committed to paying their counter-financing fund are not serious about releasing all the funds, and in most cases in an untimely manner,” said Agbor-Gabriel.

The fund is meant to manage acute malnutrition in communities using ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF).

Only Kaduna released the full fund it budget for RUTF in 2018. Katsina released N147 million out of N250m it budgeted, and Nasarawa released N10m out of N13m, according to records CISLAC has pooled.

The three states, alongside Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Niger, Sokoto and the federal health ministry, have a total budget of N1.9 billion for nutrition. Only a combined N257m from Kaduna, Katsina and Nasarawa has been released.

The call for states to access donor counterpart funds for nutrition comes as states begin publishing their 2019 budget—and go in to election mode ahead of 2019 polls.

The CISLAC executive said failure to access the funds was a “calculated attempt by wicked people to allow our children die on the streets while they siphon money to keep for elections.”

Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto rank highest on prevalence of global acute malnutrition.

Kano has the most children stunted in the north: 1.4 million children there are too short for their age. It prompted the rollout of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition in six, and later, 13 local government areas.

But CMAM centres have been lately hit by RUTF shortages on account of delay in release of funds, according to CISLAC.

CISLAC called for states to prioritise establishment of programmes to manage acute malnutrition in communities across states by adequately implementing existing policies as well as “adequate budgetary allocation, timely release, cash backing and utilization of funds and oversight activities.”

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