COVID-19 Crisis: UN Agency Expands Programme In Nigeria To Reach Millions Threatened With Hunger

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its programme in Nigeria for the first time, to reach people in towns and cities – where millions of people are threatened with hunger and malnutrition due to the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the coming weeks and months, WFP which is working together with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, will continue to support the most vulnerable families.

The Buhari administration and WFP this Tuesday launched a cash and food assistance programme in the three urban COVID-19 hotspots of Abuja, Kano and Lagos.

While the UN food agency is releasing $3.00 million to provide cash assistance, the Nigerian government has released 2,000 metric tons of food from its Strategic Grain Reserve valued at $1.00 million.

Across Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country, citizens who earn the least have lost the most as a result of the pandemic.

Approximately 90 percent of the 200 million people depend on a daily wage to survive, and many of these people live in urban areas.

These informal workers have lost up to 80 percent of their earnings. With a lack of income and increasing food prices, more and more people are finding it extremely difficult to meet their food needs.

The prices of basic cereals have risen by 15 percent in the last month alone, and the national price of millet – Nigeria’s staple food – has doubled over the past year.

To cope with hunger, families are being forced to borrow money and food, or sell their remaining assets – plunging them deeper into poverty.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State at a joint press conference this Tuesday says, “this partnership has enabled us to save the lives of thousands of people in Kano State during these difficult times.”

Distribution of cash and food began in Kano to complement the government’s ongoing efforts to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To minimise the risk of exposure to the virus, WFP has arranged for home deliveries of cash and food. In Kano, food will be delivered using the local ke-ke rickshaw service.

In Lagos, WFP is partnering with the state government to deliver food using boats to reach families living in the riverine community of Makoko.

In all three urban areas, cash will be transferred through pre-paid debit cards or online bank transfers.

WFP Country Director and Representative, Paul Howe, says “the government of Nigeria has shown great commitment and leadership in responding to this crisis. This is exactly what we need during this time of pandemic and beyond to achieve Zero Hunger in Nigeria.”

Before now, WFP has been working in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe – supporting some 1.8 million internally displaced people, returnees, children under the age of five and pregnant or breastfeeding women with life-saving food and nutrition assistance.

WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change, is also providing technical support to strengthen Nigeria’s government-led social protection systems and is scaling up its direct support in areas where COVID-19 threatens to drive up extreme levels of vulnerability.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was established on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The ministry positions itself in light of the prevailing humanitarian situation in the country through its Vision, Mission and Core values to promote human dignity and integration of basic humane benevolence and compassion in the treatment of all Nigerians.

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