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COVID-19: WFP commences distribution of food items to 200,000 people in Kano, Lagos, FCT

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World Food Programme yesterday commenced distribution of food items worth US$3 million to the less-privileged people in Kano, Lagos and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to ease the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The WFP intervention in the three hotspots cities is part of the contribution to UNDP’s One-UN Basket Fund Project designed to assist the urban poor to mitigate the humanitarian crisis occasioned by the global pandemic.

Officially inaugurating the disbursement of the food items in Kano, WFP country representative, Paul Howe disclosed that 67,000 persons will physically take delivery of the food bags in each of the franchise states and FCT.

Paul who explained the urgent need of WFP to save humanity from hunger in Nigeria posted that COVID-19 has grown beyond a global health crisis into a global ‘food pandemic’ of historical proportions.

He said the WFP intervention will be complemented by the generous donation of 2,000 metric tons of food valued at US$1 million by the Federal government through the National Strategic Grains Reserve.

According to him, ” Over 90 million people 46 per cent of the population in Nigeria live on less than US$2 per day. The urban poor depending on daily wages has been very hard hit by COVID-19. In Kano where the impact is anticipated to be significant given its regional centrality and commercial importance, the number of food-insecure increased by 15 per cent, from 568,000 to 1.5 million.

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“WFP intervention is a part of the collective response to tackle the negative food security impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living in urban areas. The intervention will extend to other parts of the country, like Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This is the first time WFP is expanding into urban centres in Nigeria to serve people and families affected by hunger and severe food insecurity.”

Earlier, the minister of humanitarian Affairs, Sadia Faruq, represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Alh. Bashir Nura Alkali said the government will soon commence data collection of one million urban poor for the distribution of N5,000 each besides the existing cash transfer programme. He said the ministry is working with UNDP to elevate poverty in Nigeria.

The UNDP had launched a cash transfer project to 9,600 families, 2,500 SMEs and Start-ups, an intervention worth US$1.2 million. The UN agency is championing the basket fund of a socio-economic response aimed at providing support to the vulnerable communities in the state.

According to UNDP vocal person, North West, Habib Hotoro, emphasized that the beneficiaries will enjoy N5,000 each for nine months on three instalments through an identified bank account.

Habib who also doubled as special adviser to Governor Abdullah Umar Ganduje on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stressed that beneficiaries are carefully selected using national database devoid of political affiliation.

“Those selected to benefit are carefully chosen across the eight metropolis local government areas. We make sure the beneficiaries have never benefited from any government palliative. And we don’t consider political affiliation. It is based on merit.

“We are focusing on urban poor, SMEs and Start-ups. We would open an account for them and make sure payment will base on verified BVN to avoid double payment. No payment by cash. Beneficiaries will get N5,000 each for nine months but payment will be made on three instalments” Habib noted.

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