E bi pa mii ( I am dying of hunger)
On a recent visit to Nigeria, whilst on a tour of an estate, hidden away behind the fancy mansions was a dumpsite. The dumpsite was not pleasant to behold and the stench of it took away the appeal of the elegant estate. We all noticed it. But nobody said anything. There were children, several of them rummaging through the stinky refuse site for left over food. A child not more than four sat comfortably on the dirt eating something.
This is the reality of our lifes and times in Nigeria. Scenes like this ( and perhaps even worse) are part of the landscape across our nation. It has become the norm -I dare say- for babies to be fed garri (coarse cassava meal) in feeding bottles and for mothers to fast and pray in their next meal.
Malnutrition and starvation are real issues in Nigeria today and indeed in many parts of Africa. I can understand the apathy of some; especially those with nice jobs, fine houses, beautiful wives and lovely children. Those who have worked hard to make sure their families are not hungry and are reaonably aloof from the hunger that bites in Nigeria. But, 158 million of us are hungry and we cannot deny that. We are not embarrased to state the obvious. It would be nice to have meals (balanced diets) rich in fruits and vegetables.
The stark truth is that it seems Mr Abati and his President have missed a crucial fact that the ‘collective children of anger’ are fed up watching their children starve. People (bread winners) are emasculated by a painful economy that has no hope of improving. A basic need (hunger) is routinely forgotten as our leaders deal with issues so far unconnected with real lives and real issues.
Mr Abati must be reminded that real Nigerians are not concerned if their President is a glutton or a drunkard. We just want to be able to feed our families. This is our reasonable expectation.
Where we are today.
‘The 2012 Save the Children report titled, A life free from hunger: Tackling child malnutrition, states that 11 million Nigerian children are chronically malnourished and the number could increase to 13.4 million by 2020 if nothing is done to address the situation. This is because the report states that one in every five chronically malnourished child in Africa lives in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2008 points out that 41 per cent of all Nigerian children under five years are stunted — i.e. too short for their age, 14 per cent are wasted — i.e. too thin for their age; while nearly one in every four children is underweight.
For most of these children, malnutrition becomes apparent in the first two years and if not addressed, worsens as the child grows, as some consequences of malnutrition at this early age are irreversible. The implications are grave for the victims, the society and the country as a whole. First of all, a child that is malnourished would never be able to reach his/her full potential in terms of growth and brain development. Second, malnutrition is the underlying cause of 53 per cent of nearly one million deaths of children under five in Nigeria and, lastly, studies have shown that malnutrition is undermining economic growth. Indeed, it is estimated that 2-3 per cent of the national income of a country can be lost to malnutrition.’
Culled from the Punch 27th August 2012.
‘We must work to end malnutrition in our life time’.