Nigeria: defending the nutrition budget
The advocacy efforts to increase nutrition investment from the Zamfara government enters another stage as the state Ministry of Health appeared before the House of Assembly to defend its proposed budget for 2013.
As the major advocates of the nutrition budget in Zamfara, Save the Children supports the Ministry of Health in justifying the need for separating nutrition from general maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) activities.
Persuading the legislators
Getting the buy-in of the State House Committee on Finance and Appropriation ahead of the formal defence session was the key to our success.
Together with the leaders of our advocacy group, MNCH coalition, we also made an appearance in the House of Assembly to present the significant health responsibilities to be performed by the state government with the nutrition funds as follows:
1. Open government-owned sites for the treatment of malnourished children. The current sites, whcih were opened by donors, are in just six of the of the fourteen local government areas. We need the state government to scale-up the programme.
2. Support the activities of the Committee on Food and Nutrition.
3. Support community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) sites with essential medicine needed for the treatment of malnutrition-related complications in children.
4. Lead the bi-annual MNCH Week. The state contributed the least amount (3.2 million) out of the 15 million naira expended during the second round of the MNCH Week 2012.
4. Respond to malnutrition-related emergencies, such as the recent outbreak in Bukkuyum.
Our asks to the legislators
In recognition of this development and the needs justified above, we requested the honourable members of the house of assembly to consider using its constitutional powers to do the following:
1. Endorse the newly created budget of nutrition and make it a recurrent expenditure, not capital as earlier submitted, so that the state can respond to malnutrition-related emergencies and provide timely support to CMAM sites.
2. Monitor the timely release of nutrition funds for the intended purpose only.
3. Look into the possibility of increasing the nutrition allocation to above the proposed 20 million naira.
Except for the last request, which the legislators said needed further consultation with related ministries, all other asks have been successfully accepted.