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Nigeria food distribution © Action contre la Faim Nigeria

Headline

Nigeria

Covid-19 : Food distribution to vulnerable households continues

The humanitarian crisis in Northeastern Nigeria, Borno, Adamawa is among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world today.  In Northeastern Nigeria, more than 1, 8 million of people are internally displaced as a result of the 10 years-long ongoing conflict with non-state armed groups. Forced to flee their homes, they end-up seeking refuge in host communities or makeshift camps. The impact on their living conditions, health and their dignity is tremendous. To support these vulnerable populations , Action Against Hunger reaches them with health and nutrition programs; clean water and sanitation to reduce malnutrition and diseases; emergency cash transfers or food distribution to help displaced people purchase food or meet other urgent needs; and longer-term food security initiatives.

With the upsurge of active cases in Nigeria, Action Against Hunger activated an emergency preparedness and response plan to restructure food distribution, adapting NCDC guidelines to protect staff, vendors and community people we support. . “The distribution of food continues, with strict guidelines. Efforts to protect and promote good nutrition must be part of COVID-19 prevention strategies to build resilience of individuals and communities”. Says Kingsley Udealor, Action Against Hunger Food For Peace Sector Manager. “Healthy, nutritious diets are key for boosting immunity and preventing non-communicable diseases that are risk factors for higher COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.”

 

New measures during food distribution

As vendors prepare distribution sites with the early morning sun high over Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) and Jere Local Governments, beneficiaries made their way to food distribution points. To ensure correctness for social distancing beneficiaries were divided into groups of 10, siting six feet apart under a tent to protect them against the scorching sun of the area. Hand-washing stations at all distribution sites, with hand sanitizers and wipes provided for staff to disinfect the devices after each beneficiary’s thumbprint. Staff and beneficiaries urged to keep a safe distance while engaging each other. These measures introduced reduced the risks posed by queues and gathering in clusters.

As part of the measures to improve on community people’ knowledge on Covid 19, our staff provided communities with information about the pandemic and preventive measures. “We commenced with informing community leaders with the requirement to have new modalities with for distributions, sensitizing them on why the new measures are necessary,” says Shuaibu Ali, a Mobilization Officer with Action Against Hunger

Nigeria beneficiaries queue © Action contre la Faim Nigeria

Despite prior sensitization and communication awareness on preventive measures against Covid-19, beneficiaries were visibly surprised and seemed confused with the unusual atmosphere and arrangement at the food distribution site. Unlike previous distribution rounds, beneficiaries washed their hands before allowed into the waiting area where volunteers and staff ensured the sitting arrangement to maintain the recommended distance of six meters. “I came to redeem my voucher as usual but met an unusual setting, though I spent more time I appreciate the concerns of ‘Action Against Hunger’ taking all necessary measures for our health, preventing us from the deadly coronavirus,” says Ummi Goni, Food For Peace beneficiary in Mallumeri, Jere LGA.

"Without this food, our families will be hungry. We remain grateful to Action Against Hunger"
Dauda Ayuba
Nigeria

Hannatu Yusuf, an IDP from St. Hilary camp was among the beneficiaries that were curious about seeing how the new mode of distribution can be achieved. “Unlike previous distributions, I was made to wash my hands and I noticed people sat at a distance from each other. The vendor also sanitized the device before verifying my thumbprint. I am not used to hand-washing but now I know it is important for everyone in my camp to wash hands with water and soap to keep ourselves safe from the disease. I am going to promote handwashing in my IDP camp and limit large gatherings within the camp.”

The measures put in place affected the slated number of days for distribution from the usual 5days to 10days. “Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, 25 vendors served 1,500 to 2,000 households daily, but with the current happenings we serving approximately half the number”. At Action Against Hunger, we prioritize the lives and safety of our beneficiaries says Jabila Mamza, FFP Cash Officer.

Social distancing is now the norm at all food distributions sites. Dauda Ayuba, a father of seven children said happily as he indicated his joy that Action Against Hunger has continued with food distribution despite the concerns with Covid 19. 

We will continue to mobilize and engage with communities, maintaining existing programs, while implementing measures to adapt our response to the circumstances as it evolves.

Since 2016, through the Food For Peace program, funded by the USAID Action Against Hunger has been supporting vulnerable populations with food. We support approximately 37, 000 House Holds, 200,000 individuals approximately on monthly bases across Borno and Yobe State  with food distribution .

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