Famine imminent in North East, says UN
‘FG should invest in water to curb epidemics’
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, has raised the alarm of looming food crisis in the North East region of Nigeria.
According to Kallon, acute hunger threatens 4.4 million people. Speaking at the 20th meeting of the Joint Planning Board (JPB) and National Council on Development Planning held at Government House, Maiduguri, yesterday, he noted: “This is happening against the backdrop of a combination of escalating conflict, displacement and loss of livelihoods from the Coronavirus Disease.”
Represented by Ms. Esty Sutyoko at the three-day economic summit themed ‘Managing Nigerian Economy for a Sustainable Development in a Challenging Environment’, Kallon disclosed: “We’re working together to alleviate suffering and save lives of people affected by a dozen years of conflict.”
He said the alleviation of sufferings would be ‘comprehensive and sustainable’ to restore destroyed livelihoods. To curb the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases, WaterAid Nigeria has launched its hygiene response programme, Scale-Up Hygiene Project-Phase II, urging the Federal Government to invest in the provision of water to curb future epidemics.
The programme is meant to create awareness in preventing the spread of cholera and COVID-19 in vulnerable communities. The Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere, said the project had its second phase focusing on consolidating on the wins of the first phase and ramping up existing hygiene promotion interventions and campaigns to increase access to improved hygiene, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support national and sub-national governments to integrate water, sanitation, and hygiene in their COVID-19 response and vaccination strategy.
“To achieve this, WaterAid will empower communities with context-specific hygiene behavioural change promotion tools, insights and materials designed to help them protect themselves from infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
“The project will increase access to non-contact and inclusive handwashing facilities in key strategic locations and deepen advocacy strategies to key government stakeholders to prioritise, integrate and sustain water, sanitation and hygiene access.
This will serve as a key preventive method for fighting against disease spread and ensure preparedness against future pandemics,” she said.
The first phase of the project was successful in reaching and equipping 21 million residents in Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna and Oyo states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), WaterAid said.