With a population of about 198 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent. The population is growing at an annual rate of 2.6%, while the urban growth rate is 4.3%: today 1 of every 2 Nigerians live in an urban area. Nigeria faces several socio-economic problems – poverty, hunger, unemployment and the burden of disease – all of which have taken a significant toll on national productivity.
Malnutrition trends over recent years show a worrying lack of progress. Malnutrition statistics indicate severe nutritional gaps occurring during the crucial first 1000-day window of a child’s life and continuing through to early childhood. In parallel with widespread undernutrition, overweight and obesity are on the rise, especially among adults in urban areas. Consumption of nutritious animal source foods such as fish has remained static, consumption of vegetables and pulses has declined by 7%, and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased by 39%. In Nigeria, 5 of the top 10 risk factors that drive disability and death are related to diets. All these gaps in diet quality stemming from insufficient dietary intake, to micronutrient deficiencies and to overconsumption point to critical flaws within the national food system.
Malnutrition represents a serious issue in Nigeria. The statistics for children under five show that 19.9% children are underweight, 32.0% are stunted, and only 58.2% of children are appropriately breastfed.
GAIN has been working in Nigeria since 2012. At the beginning, our work focused on Large-Scale Food Fortification. In recent years, we have diversified our activities to include targeted dietary improvement programmes such as Better Diets for Children; Postharvest Loss Reduction; and support to businesses through the Scaling-Up Nutrition Business Network.
Over the next five years our work will target Nigerians who are affected by malnutrition, especially women of reproductive age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, adolescent boys and girls, as well as infants and young children below the age of five.
We will make targeted investments in the areas of Large-Scale Food Fortification of staple foods for the delivery of essential nutrients and vitamins to large populations; we will work on Reducing Postharvest Loss to minimise food waste; we will encourage dietary diversity and ensure the availability of nutrient-dense fresh foods all year round; we will promote Better Diets for Children to ensure increased consumption of animal source foods by children; and we will support private sector engagement and government initiatives to develop and implement policies aimed at improving better nutritious and safe food for all.