The Dangote Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a combined commitment of $100 million over the next five years (2016-2020) towards ending undernutrition in Nigeria.
The joint commitment is expected to improve the lives of, at least, five million families by 2020. It was jointly announced by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote and the World’s richest man Bill Gates on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria.
Despite rapid economic growth, Nigeria is home to the highest number of stunted children in Africa and the second highest globally. Almost one in five Nigerian children is acutely malnourished and more than one in three children suffer from stunting. With its vital role in child health, growth and cognitive development, better nutrition will be essential to unleashing the potential of Nigeria’s next generation.
“Nutrition is one of the highest impact investments we can make in Nigeria’s future growth and prosperity. We know that well-nourished children are more likely to grow up to be healthy, fend off preventable diseases, achieve more in school and even earn higher income as adults,” said Bill Gates. “This partnership builds on our foundation’s strong commitment to Nigeria – one of several countries where we are working closely with the government, the private sector and civil society to improve health and development outcomes.”
In a joint statement, the two foundations said they will begin a joint planning process to determine the details of the partnership. Programs will include community-based approaches and proven interventions linked to behaviour change, fortification of staple foods with essential micronutrients, the community management of acute malnutrition and investments in the local production of nutritious foods. A key objective will be improving the livelihoods of households by supporting nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs that can increase family income, improve diets and empower women and youth.
The two foundations also welcomed the increased political attention to undernutrition in Nigeria and noted that leadership will be critical to future progress.
“In the spirit of our new partnership, we encourage even more deliberate and significant commitments from the Government of Nigeria at all levels to step up investments in nutrition. It is time to make strategic investments in interventions to eliminate malnutrition in Nigeria. This will be achieved through a massive scale-up of interventions, matched with effective coordination of efforts and innovative sustainable solutions. We have to ensure that children who are already malnourished receive help and are prevented from dying while we improve the conditions that led to them being malnourished in the first place’,” said Dangote.