The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says the number of people suffering acute food crisis in Kano State has increased from 568,000 before the coronavirus pandemic to 1.5 million in October.
The degeneracy, which is put at 158 per cent, according to the global humanitarian organisation, is part of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The organisation disclosed this in Kano on Monday evening during the formal launch of its food and cash assistance to the urban poor in the state.
Justifying the choice of Kano State for the aid distribution, WFP in its statement which was shared with the media at the event, explained that the city’s regional centrality and commercial importance accounted for the significant figure.
The global body said the initiative will be extended to Lagos, the country’s commercial centre, and Abuja, the federal capital territory. It added that the biting consequences of the pandemic compelled it to, for the first time, expand its programme in Nigeria to reach people in towns and cities, where it noted that; “millions of people are threatened with hunger and malnutrition due to the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Towards achieving the programme, WFP said it has budgeted $3 million, amounting to about N1.1 billion, and that the Nigerian government has supported the programme with 2,000 metric tonnes of food from its Strategic Grain Reserve which is valued at $1 million or about N380 million.
It said more than 200,000 individuals have been identified to benefit from the food or cash assistance with 67,000 beneficiaries in each of the nation’s three cities of Kano, Lagos and Abuja.
“Across Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country – people who earn the least have lost the most as a result of the pandemic. Approximately 90 per cent of the population depend on a daily wage to survive, and many of these people live in urban areas. These informal workers have lost up to 80 per cent 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 per cent 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.”
Speaking at the launch, the Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, commended the global organisation for the support, saying collaboration among world leaders and authorities is the best way to tackle the pandemic and its spiraling consequences.
He said; “This partnership has enabled us to save the lives of thousands of people in Kano State during these difficult times.”
Speaking on the development, Paul Howe, WFP’s country director in Nigeria, said the cash and food distribution is to complement the government’s ongoing efforts to cushion the impact of the pandemic. “In the coming weeks and months, WFP will continue to work with the governments of Abuja and Lagos to support the most vulnerable families.”
Mr Howe further said; “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.
“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. Meanwhile, in all three urban areas, cash will be transferred through prepaid debit cards or online bank transfers.”