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How many Nigerians know about The Sustainable Development Goals? How much of it is taught in our school curriculum and at what level? There are a lot of activities online, conferences and meetings on SDGs in Nigeria but physically, there is little proof of progress to show on SDGs.

The Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) require an absolute commitment to deeper comprehension for these goals to be properly integrated into member countries of the United Nations and for tangible transformations in the lives of everyone. It is important for no one to be left behind even though in Nigeria, we are already years behind in development and responding to our commitment to these goals. Nigeria needs to focus on People-centered policies that are focused on value for human lives and social justice. Focusing on people means focusing on ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms through sustainable, climate-friendly solutions to be able to feed the millions of Nigerians suffering from undernourishment and hunger. Nigeria has the highest number of hungry people in West Africa, with about 12.1 million people chronically hungry and malnourished.

An estimated 821 million people struggle with chronic hunger. This means 44 million more people than two years ago, this is despite the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to try to end hunger by 2030. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 236.5 million people are malnourished accounting for about 28% of the 821 million undernourished people in the world. (FAO 2018) 1 in 9n people around the world is going hungry.

After years of decline, global hunger is on the rise again. With violent conflicts across many countries in the developing world, where there is a higher percentage of the world’s malnourished population, failing economies, and natural disasters partly due to climate change, the population of people getting hungry continues to be on the rise. For a country like Nigeria to move past the poverty and malnourishment experienced by millions of Nigerians reducing hunger, and malnourishment and eradicating poverty by improving economic growth should become a priority.

For Nigeria to make headway in achieving SDG1 (No Poverty) and SDG2 (Zero Hunger) it must embrace the five elements of the Zero Hunger Challenge. These elements together can eliminate all forms of malnutrition, end hunger and effectively build inclusive and sustainable food systems. The Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the then UN Secretary-General- Ban Ki-Moon in 2012 should inspire The Nigerian Government to ensure that food and nutrition, as well as sustainable agricultural practices, remain high on its development agenda in a bid to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria.

The Five Elements of the Zero Hunger Challenge include;

  • All Food Systems are Sustainable; from Production to Consumption

  • AN end to Rural poverty; Double Small-scale Producer Incomes and Productivity

  • Adapt All Food Systems to Eliminate Loss or Food Waste

  • Access Adequate Food and Healthy Diets, for all People, all Year Round

  • An end to Malnutrition in all its form

All Food Systems are Sustainable: From Production to Consumption Sustainable food systems deliver food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. The effects of climate change will require sustainable and climate-compatible agriculture practices, including diversifying production.

An End to Rural Poverty: Double Small-scale Producer Incomes & Productivity Ending rural poverty will require a determined effort to increase the income of the small-scale producers. Small-scale producers also hold the key to sustainably feeding a growing global population. This will involve improving people’s well-being through sustainable livelihoods: increasing smallholders’ income and productivity and decent rural employment.

Adapt All Food Systems to Eliminate Loss or Waste of Food Minimizing food losses during production, storage and transport, and waste of food by retailers and consumers; empowering consumer choice; commitments by producers, retailers, and consumers within all nations.

Access Adequate Food and Healthy Diets, for all People, all Year-Round Addressing poverty and inequality and building peoples’ resilience to shocks and stresses. Access to food that forms the basis of healthy and diverse diets is intricately linked to both rights — particularly equity and women’s rights — and resilience.

An End to Malnutrition in all its forms; Malnutrition is both a driver and an outcome of poverty and inequality. Undernutrition can also lead to hidden hunger, wasting and stunting, which causes irreversible damage to both individuals and society. Obesity in childhood is a growing problem in all regions. Ensuring universal access to nutritious food in the 1000-day window of opportunity between the start of pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is essential to tackling stunting. This should be supported by a multi-sectoral approach which includes nutrition-sensitive health care, water, sanitation, education, agriculture, social protection and specific nutrition interventions, coupled with initiatives that enable the empowerment of women. 

Nigeria needs to do more to implement these elements which are a wholesome reflection of how hunger and malnutrition can be solved. Nigeria needs to go beyond the paperwork style of making policies without any practical action to synergize these elements. We must focus on grassroots-inclined policies that favour those most affected by malnutrition and hunger in Nigeria.

It is important that;

  • No one is left behind

  • Human rights mean everyone is included

  • Policies need to be coherent and coordinated to produce results through deliberate actions at all levels (National, Regional and Local levels)

  • Every time a policy is implemented, it must translate to tangible transformations in the lives of those involved.

  • Investment in sustainable production and consumption must become a priority these include sustainable food and nutrition systems.

  • Women must be given priority to policies that will be beneficial to them as mothers, farmers, and entrepreneurs.

  • Agriculture and Food Systems must be reshaped and refocused to combat climate change.

In the end, Nigeria as a country in all levels of Government must work comprehensively to ensure that;

  • Every man, woman and child enjoys the right to adequate food.

  • Women are empowered

  • Priority is given to family farming.

There must be a renewed focus on Sustainable Development Goals with the need for a mix of the right policies and sound political leadership. We need more integrated approaches by people with frontline experiences and people who have had real contact with those most affected by hunger and malnutrition to champion solutions with adequate support from the Government to make Nigeria a shining example by 2030. With Millions of Nigerians wallowing in poverty and deprivation, there has to be adequate education on the fact that everything does not have to be about politics, religion and the need to encourage mutual learning amongst stakeholders, transparency and accountability from those in charge of projects for us to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria by 2030.

Is Nigeria ready for a world where there is a partnership for nourishing our People, nurturing our Planet, growing prosperity and harvesting peace?

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