FG, agency sign MoU on procurement of therapeutic food
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday said its Cash Transfer Programme (CTP), has increased enrolment and retention of girls in northern schools to a very significant extent.Education Specialist at UNICEF, Azuka Menkiti, who spoke in Sokoto at a two-day Media Dialogue on Educate-A-Child (EAC) Cash Transfer Programme in Northern Nigeria, said the programme carried out under Girls Education Project (GEP3) was implemented in Sokoto and Niger states.
She disclosed that from experts’ evaluation, the programme helped in removing barriers to the enrolment and retention of girl-child in schools.The programme was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF.Menkiti said the realisation that poverty prevented children, especially girls from attending school, gave birth to CTP since most of the girls engage in economic activities.
She said N5,000 was given to each beneficiary per term depending on the number of female children in each family and that the fund went a long way in empowering the families, thereby improving the parents’ willingness to send their female children to school.She said they adopted unconditional method of CTP when the conditional method failed to yield the desired results, adding: “Initially, we got parents to sign a contract that if they bring children to school we give them money.
“But we later discovered that the method has lapses as it failed to yield the expected results and so we adopted the unconditional method. With the unconditional method, there was awareness and sensitization followed by cash disbursement. With this method, parents were morally obliged to send their kids to school.
“A total of 23,655 girls benefitted from the programme with Niger recording 12,314, while Sokoto accounted for 11,341. We also recorded net increase in average girls enrolment of 29.4 per cent in Niger and 32.4 per cent in Sokoto. We urge government at all levels to support UNICEF as we cannot do it alone.”
To ensure its long-term sustainability, she urged the National Assembly to enact a CTP law to mandate government to support CTPs in basic education.The EAC CTP programme, she added, was currently ongoing in Kebbi and Zamfara states, but due to the economic situation, it was increased from N5,000 to N8,000 per beneficiary.
Commending UNICEF for the programme, the Sokoto State Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Muhammad Jabbi Kilgori, said the state has designed its own sustainability programme to maximise results.
Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle malnutrition in children, the Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) with UNICEF for the procurement of ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF).The partnership would serve as counterpart contributions for the procurement and distribution of the commodity in the six geo-political zones of the country.
Records revealed that no fewer than 2.5 million children under the age of five suffer severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria currently and if nothing is done urgently, about 20 per cent of them would die as 90 per cent of the cases reside in Northern Nigeria.
Speaking at the event in Abuja. Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said the ministry has initiated the Community based Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Gombe and Kebbi states as pilot scheme.He added that the programme has reached 10 other states, namely: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara, adding that the idea which is on-going, was to cover the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.