Last month, Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) and it’s independent component ‘operations research and impact evaluation’ (ORIE) held a joint learning event in Abuja to discuss the first wave of ORIE findings. The core focus of the event was to explore how these findings can be used to enhance WINNN.
- Poor infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices and low immunisation coverage are common place in the five WINNN states;
- There are low levels of awareness of a number of health and nutrition-related interventions amongst households and communities;
- Women often face barriers to accessing health facilities; and, due to inadequate incentives, there is low motivation amongst many of community volunteers who deliver services.
- The need to bring more IYCF-related services into the community
- improve volunteer motivation;
- Increase the number and type of channels used for social mobilisation, for example reaching out to traditional and religious leaders;
- To better involve women in programming and planning decisions.
These recommendations and findings come amidst a context in Northern Nigeria of rapid economic development in recent years, yet rates of chronic and acute malnutrition, especially in the North remain unacceptably high. In Northern Nigeria the stunting rates for children under five years are 53 per cent, well above the national average of 40 per cent and significantly above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) classification of an emergency situation.
What is WINNN and how does ORIE fit into the programme?
WINNN has been funded £50 million for five years, by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It operates in five states in Northern Nigeria working to provide a package of nutrition interventions through existing routine health services, whilst aiming to build sustainable state level capacity to address undernutrition.
ORIE is the component that helps WINNN to learn from and improve the delivery of its interventions, strengthen it’s evidence base on what interventions are most effective in Northern Nigeria, and to use this evidence to raise the profile of nutrition as a key development issue with the aim of improving political commitment to addressing undernutrition.
Following the event, the findings were presented to federal and state government officials, including State Commissioners of Health, Chairmen of State Food and Nutrition Committees, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Planning Commission. Discussions were lively and spanned a range of key issues including how to locally produce ready to use therapeutic foods, issues around early marriage, and the importance of female education.
These activities are part of ongoing work by WINNN and ORIE to engage government and other key stakeholders about the importance of sustained commitment and action to address undernutrition, and to communicate to regional and global audiences the experience of nutrition programme delivery and implementation research in a challenging context.
By Tom Barker Senior Nutrition Convenor and Kat Pittore Nutrition Convenor, Institute of Development Studies