GAIN has supported nutrition activities, especially large-scale food fortification, since 2007. Nigeria is a priority country for GAIN, which is exploring further opportunities in micronutrient supplements, development of nutritious foods for mothers and children, and bridging the gap between agriculture and nutrition.
With 10 million children under age 5 stunted, the prevalence of malnutrition has remained the same during the last 10 years. One-third of preschool-age children have vitamin A deficiency, which has a direct impact on a child’s immune system and sight. Anemia in preschool-age children is at 76 percent. The typical foods consumed do not have the necessary nutrients needed for their critical stages of growth, and many nutrient-rich foods are unaffordable. Stunting rates have been recorded at 41 percent; wasting at 14 percent; and underweight at 23 percent. Almost half of Nigeria’s population lives in rural areas, but malnutrition is expected to worsen in urban areas. An estimated 46 million people will be living in urban slums by 2015.
GAIN emphasizes building an enabling environment for nutrition and nutrition interventions in Nigeria, such as: providing technical support to local manufacturers to ensure production of high-quality fortified foods that meet nutritional needs; behavior change communication (BCC) in states where the government has shown financial commitment toward addressing malnutrition; and supporting the government to put in place policy documents that embrace a wider variety of on-the-ground nutrition interventions.
GAIN’s Large-Scale Food Fortification program aims to reach 110 million Nigerians and increase the national consumption of essential vitamins and minerals through the fortification of staple foods. GAIN works with the local private sector to produce fortified wheat and maize flour, vegetable oil and sugar. In order to improve consumer awareness of the benefits of food fortification, Maverick Equinox is being supported by GAIN in implementing a social marketing campaign in the states of Lagos and Kano.
GAIN supports local production of multinutrient supplements and is involved in the launch of a home-fortification program as an intervention strategy to reduce iron-deficiency anemia. An initial batch was distributed in early December 2013 in Benue State; and another is scheduled to be released in May 2014, reaching a total of 101,000 children aged between 6 months and just under 5 years old.