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USAID launches $6m ‘EatSafe’ activity to improve nutrition in Nigeria

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


By Our reporter


Dec. 3, 2020 - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a six million dollar activity, “EatSafe” to support Nigeria in improving food security, safety, nutrition, and resilience, and to mitigate food insecurity post COVID-19 pandemic.


The USAID launched the five-year programme (2019-2024) on Thursday in Abuja with Kebbi State as the pilot beneficiary state which would be implemented Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an independent non-profit foundation.


According to USAID, Nigeria will receive a total of $6 million in funding and implementation will begin in Kebbi State to, which has the highest incidence of malnutrition in the country with $3.5 million funding.


Mr Colin Dreizin, the Director of USAID’s Office of Economic Growth and Environment said that USAID recognizes that food safety is crucial for improving nutrition for a healthy, productive, and resilient Nigeria.


Drezin who joined the event virtually said that EatSafe will explore innovative ways to engage stakeholders, including the private sector, to improve food safety and nutrition security.


He added that ensuring safe and nutritious food for all is one of the key public health and social challenges of our time.


“An important challenge that we all face relates to food safety. In 2010, the global burden of foodborne diseases was estimated at 600 million illnesses and 420,000 premature deaths.


“More than a third of this burden of illness is shouldered by children under five years of age, and more than half by people living in low- and middle-income countries.


“Unsafe food is responsible for hundreds of diseases. Diarrheal disease, the most common, results from the consumption of contaminated food and causes illnesses in over half a million people and a quarter million deaths every year around the world.


“The occurrence of food borne diseases remains a significant health issue in Nigeria, where food safety concerns include biological, physical, and chemical contamination, adulteration, misbranding, illegal food trading, and weak control over imported and exported foods.


“We are committed to working with the Nigerian government on development and implementation of an effective food safety policy to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases in Nigeria.


In response, USAID, under its Global Food Security Strategy, developed a country plan for Nigeria that builds on and aligns with Nigeria’s priorities for food security and nutrition.


“Reflected in the National Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition 2019-2023, which was jointly developed by government and development partners, including USAID.


“We recognize how integral sustainable food safety and nutrition, together with strengthening resilience, building capacity, and securing commitment are to Nigeria’s journey to self-reliance,” Dreizin said.


Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State appreciated the USAID for their support to the State, adding that the Federal government and the State have also been carrying out awareness creation on safe food processing and consumption.


He said that there was need for more collaboration of government agencies and stakeholders in teaching people how to move from a consumption pattern to safer and more nutritious process.


“The USAID has recognized this as a global burden and is increasingly playing a role in generating global attention so we all do better.


“Some of the challenges can be solved in a market driven manner because a lot of food is being delivered by people who are participating in the market economy.


“But because of limitation in knowledge, limitation in packaging technology they tend to conduct these business in way that they can be supported and they would help deliver safer food to both the market and households.


“A visit to market which show you very hard working men and women who are participating in provision of food items which is the major items of consumption in those communities but they cannot invest in better packaging.


“You travel across the northern part of Nigeria, even some southern parts, you will see Fulani women carrying milk and milk products in calabash, headed to the market, by 6 p.m. the milk and milk products becomes stale.


“One can imagine how they will be helped by better preservation technology and preservation technology so that the milk can have a better shelf life and to be delivered to the market and consumers safely,” Bagudu said.


In his remarks, Mr Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN also reiterated the need for more awareness creation on what unsafe food really is and how best people can pay attention to food safety,


He said that food safety is really important because if food is not safe it cannot be nutritious, and unsafe food is never nutritious no matter no many nutrients.


“To ensure food safety, we have to do a number of things, we have to make consumers more aware of where food comes from, what safe food looks like and what it doesn’t look like.


“We have to make businesses realize that the short term is to sell food when its unsafe but long term business proposition is to make sure your food is as safe as possible.


“We have to support them to do that because they do not have the capacity to do that. We have to support them through government programmes or business programmes.


“We have to work with governments and researchers because we have a lot of food safety issues and we have to know what issues we are dealing with,” Haddad said.


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