The United Nations (UN) in Nigeria has said that about 70 per cent of people in Katsina State are living below the poverty line.
Mathias Schmale, the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, disclosed this when he visited the state governor, Aminu Masari on Monday.
“I said to my colleagues that I want to get first-hand information so that people will not bamboozle me with statistics and arguments. I can say I have seen it myself,” Schmale said.
“We understand that poverty, insecurity and lack of knowledge are also key factors that are contributing to malnutrition among children in the state.”
He added, “At our next meeting of the humanitarian country team this coming Wednesday, we will discuss humanitarian issues in the rest of the country, not just in the North-East.”
Mr Schimale also mentioned that Mr Masari visited the UN house on several occasions to show concern for his people and made a case for better support for Katsina.
“We have not forgotten his efforts. I have been made to understand that Katsina has a very rich history in culture. What I have understood so far is a couple of things. One is that it seems there is a nutrition crisis all over Nigeria, including Katsina,” the UN official explained. “What I have been educated on today is the drivers of this crisis in your state are a mixture of three factors, one is insecurity, another one is poverty.”
In some places, the UN representative noted that “there also seems to be a lack of knowledge, and so, education should be part of it.”
Mr Masari also attributed the malnutrition crisis to some cultural issues.
“The same problem is happening in most of the northern states. A family of 10 some 20 years back had only one hectare of land for cultivation,” the Katsina governor stated. “But because of culture, this family in 10 years can become a family of 100, living on the same source.”
Mr Masari wondered “how can we address the issue in a fundamental way?”
He added, “The main driver of poverty is a lack of education and skills. The intervention we need in order to address poverty has to do with education that would give people knowledge and the skills so that production can rise, and people can look after themselves.” (NAN)