The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has donated about 4,000 tonnes of food items to Nigeria as palliatives for vulnerable households, in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sangare Sekou, the ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Water Resources and Environment, disclosed this at the presentation of the items to the Federal Government on Saturday in Kano.
Sekou said that the gesture was to demonstrate the region’s solidarity with the Government and the People of Nigeria.
He said: “This regional solidarity will be demonstrated through food donations of a total quantity of 3,999 tonnes of cereals comprising of millet and sorghum. The first donation consists of 1,196 tonnes of cereals financed by the ECOWAS Commission’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund for Disaster and Emergency Relief to Member States affected by a humanitarian crisis”.
Skou emphasized that “the second donation of 2,803 tonnes is funded by the resources of the Regional Food Security Storage Support Project, which the European Union is financing for a total amount of €56 million.
The grains, he said will be taken from the stocks in the ECOWAS Regional Food Security Reserve, partly warehoused with the Federal Strategic Reserve Department (FSRD) and distributed free of charge to the households mostly affected by the humanitarian situation in the country.
According to the Commissioner, the donations would complement the multidimensional support ECOWAS was providing to Nigeria since the advent of COVID -19 in the country on Feb. 27.
Sekou noted that the COVID -19 pandemic disrupted production, warehousing, marketing, processing, and distribution systems of agriculture and food productions, especially in the North-eastern part of the Country.
While emphasizing that the ‘Harmonised Framework For Identifying Risk Areas and Vulnerability’ estimates that over 7,087,102 people are currently in difficult food situations in the country (including Internally Displaced Persons and children affected by malnutrition), the ECOWAS Commission, according to Sekou, has decided to provide support to the region through its Humanitarian Emergency Fund and the financial support of the European Union within the framework of the Regional Food Security Storage Support Project.
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He added that food donations would assist vulnerable households to cope with the multiple crises while safeguarding their livelihoods.
According to him, ECOWAS Humanitarian Policy aims to prevent, mitigate, and provide durable solutions to complex emergencies including natural and man-made disasters in the region. It is also designed to “complement the ECOWAS Disaster Risk Reduction Policy, focusing on disaster risk mitigation through viable interventions targeted at reducing risks as an obstacle to development”, he added.