The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lagos-based Dangote Foundation have announced a five-year, $100 million commitment to reduce malnutrition in Nigeria, Agence France-Presse and Leadership report.
Expected to help improve the lives of at least five million families by 2020, primarily in northern regions of the country, the initiative will support community-based agricultural programs and proven interventions linked to behavioral change, fortification of staple foods with essential micro-nutrients, and investments in the local production of nutritious foods.
According to Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man, Nigeria has the second highest rates of acute and chronic malnutrition (18 percent) and chronic (37 percent) malnutrition in the world. "Acutely malnourished children often fall very ill and die," he said, "and at least half of all children under the age of five years that die in Nigeria do so as a result of underlying or overt malnutrition."
"Nutrition is one of the highest-impact investments we can make in Nigeria's future growth and prosperity," said Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates. "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."
Announced in Abuja, the commitment follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two foundations and the governments of three northern Nigerian states to ramp up immunization programs. The goal is to reach 80 percent of the target population with life-saving vaccines by December 2018.
"These MOUs offer the model platform to capitalize on the prospects of evidence-based approaches," said U.S. ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle. "Results will include stronger systems for immunizations, equal access to routine immunization services, and building capacity for Nigerian states to lead in developing solutions for its people."