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Advocacy on nutrition in Nigeria

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition globally.


Emma Jones

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition globally. The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) have engaged OPM to support a civil society advocacy coalition in Nigeria, focused on the prevention and treatment of child malnutrition. The advocacy goal is to increase public financing for nutrition and to promote the full mainstreaming of malnutrition prevention and treatment interventions into the Nigerian health system. The advocacy is focused at federal level and in five northern Nigerian states (Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Gombe).

We support the coalition in regard to strategy, capacity building, coordination, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation. This support is intended to strengthen the coalition's advocacy, by ensuring strong collaboration among partners, and ongoing critical reflection and adjustment to the strategy and theory of influence.

This project draws on our staff’s extensive experience of supporting citizen and civil society engagement in Nigeria and other countries. It also builds on our support to the UNICEF child malnutrition programme in Nigeria (‘Community Management of Acute Malnutrition’, or CMAM) through research funded by CIFF, and our evaluation of the DFID programme 'Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria' (WINNN).


Very few countries with a high malnutrition burden provide sufficient financing for prevention and treatment interventions, and there is inadequate public funding in Nigeria to address their widespread malnutrition issue. Supported by CIFF, the UNICEF CMAM project in Nigeria (2012-18) achieved a notable increase in public financing for CMAM. This was incentivised by a counterpart funding mechanism, and intensive advocacy. The challenge now is to sustain and increase this public financing. There is also a critical need to more fully integrate malnutrition interventions into the Nigerian primary health care system, since at present CMAM services are largely funded by development partners.

The civil society advocacy coalition has been created to strengthen, sustain, and expand this public financing, and to promote the mainstreaming of in the health system. The advocacy campaign uses mass media, social media, forums, and direct advocacy, to raise the profile of malnutrition and give more visibility to citizen demand, so as to strengthen government commitment and accountability.

Our approach

We work with the civil society coalition on an ongoing basis, and convene 'reflection and strategy' meetings every two months. We have developed a monitoring framework and simple tools which the civil society partners use to document each advocacy engagement, including the messages used and commitments made.

We analyse the monitoring data and provide a bi-monthly analysis to the partners, to support an ongoing process of reflection and strategy revision. Longer term, we will build the partners' capacity to undertake this analysis themselves. We are also undertaking an independent baseline, as well as a mid-term and an end-term evaluation.


Our work will contribute to the overall project goal to increase government financing for the prevention and treatment of child malnutrition in Nigeria, and the mainstreaming of these interventions into the Nigerian primary healthcare system. We will also strengthen the civil society partners’ capacity to undertake monitoring and their capacity to plan and implement a collaborative advocacy strategy.