Development partners and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), working on nutrition have sought partnership with the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), towards promoting appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), practices in Kaduna State.
Mrs. Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kaduna Field Office, led the delegation to the office of the NYSC Coordinator in Kaduna State, Mrs. Walida Isa, to crave for the partnership.
Ezeife explained that in spite of the crucial role of nutrition in ensuring national development, interventions in the sector had continued to suffer from insufficient funding and awareness among community members.
She said that peoples’ negative attitude and behaviours towards good infant and young child feeding practices had impacted negatively on the life and survival of children under five years.
According to her, awareness creation on adequate IYCF practices such as exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding, is key to changing the attitude and behaiviours of community members.
The specialist described NYSC as a strong partner with huge manpower and resources which, if leveraged on, would go a long way in winning the war against malnutrition in the state.
According to her, building synergy among critical stakeholders is key to ending the scourge of malnutrition in the state.
“It is on this note that partners and civil societies working with the state government to improve the nutrition indices of children under five years and women in the state see the need to partner with NYSC.
“We want to leverage on your resources and structure across the 23 local government areas of the state to reach out to parents, caregivers and community members on how to appropriately feed children under five years.
“We are hoping that the NYSC will establish a Nutrition Community Development Service (CDS), group to help change the behaviours of parents, caregivers and community members on IYCF, through awareness creation.”
Also speaking, Jessica Bartholomew of Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Kaduna State chapter, said that partnership with NYSC was strategic in ensuring that no one was left behind.
“With NYSC in the fight against malnutrition, we are confident we will get to every community member with useful information on best IYCF practices,” she said.
Similarly, the State Team Leader, Alive and Thrive, Sarah Kwasu, described changing peoples’ behaviour as a ‘daunting task’.
Kwasu, however said: “Providing the needed information is the first step towards effecting the needed change and the NYSC has provided us with a platform to reach every nook and cranny of the state.”
Also speaking, Malam Lawal Haruna of the National Orientation Agency, Kaduna office, said that NYSC was a veritable tool for community mobilisation, considering its presence in almost every community in the country.
“Your partnership will go a long way in helping us reach out to every parent, care givers and community members with messages on adequate IYCF practices for sustainable development and survival of the child,” he said.
Responding, the NYSC state coordinator said that NYSC was always ready for such collaboration and partnership that would get all corps members busy and enable them contribute to national development.
“We will give you all the support you need, except the establishment of the CDS nutrition group which will have to take place at the NYSC National headquarters.
“We are in all local government areas of the state and there is one or two corps members in every community, except areas with security challenges.
“Our manpower will be available for you in the task of working towards saving our children from preventable deaths,” she said.