Shaping Policy Discussions on Urbanization, Child Nutrition and Public Health in Nigeria: Seminars delivered in Cross River and Ebonyi states

The research seminar in Cross River held on 21 January 2019 in Calabar (c) 2019 IFPRI

In two research seminars held in Cross River (21 January 2019) and Ebonyi states (23 January 2019), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on behalf of the FtF Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project engaged 212 researchers and policy analysts, including key government officials (116 male, 96 female) on issues related to policies around child nutrition in Nigeria.

In the presentations titled “URBANIZATION, CHILD UNDERNUTRITION AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN NIGERIA” Dr. Mulubhran Amare, Associate Research Fellow with IFPRI, presented the key research findings from three studies completed by the International Food Policy Research Institute under the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project between 2016 and 2018.

The two research seminars in Cross River and Ebonyi states brought together over 200 researchers and government officials (c) 2019 IFPRI

Specifically, the research findings highlighted the following messages:

  • The burden of chronic malnutrition – in particular, undernutrition – in northern Nigeria is one of the heaviest globally. Close to half of all children under five years of age in the Northeast and Northwest geopolitical zones were estimated to be stunted in their growth for their age in 2013, compared to 22 percent in the rest of Nigeria;
  • Accelerated progress on all the factors that contribute to improved child nutritional status will be needed in northern Nigeria if young children in coming generations there are to realize their physical growth potential to the same degree as young children in other areas of the country;
  • Strong evidence of the need to treat the nutritional challenges of northern Nigeria quite differently than how nutritional challenges are addressed in other areas of Nigeria;
  • Higher light intensity tended to match with lower rates of stunting among children;
  • At higher levels of light and urbanization, stunting figures rise—indicating that as cities grow bigger the benefits of urban life brings for reducing undernutrition may become less accessible;
  • Doubling the average level of night light intensity results in a 10 percent increase in the probability of overweight women;
  • Expanding towns can be more effective in reducing poverty levels than the expansion of mega cities; and
  • Understanding the complex dynamics of urbanization and the resulting nutrition transition highlights the need to tailor efforts to reduce negative health impacts like child stunting and women’s overweight in developing countries, while emphasizing context specific solutions.

The seminars form part of the research dissemination activities of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project. The Project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Nigeria) and jointly implemented by Michigan State University and IFPRI’s Nigeria Strategy Support Program.

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