By Bode Olushegun
United Nations has lamented that more people may be faced with hunger in Nigeria this year.
The UN who complained that just 15 percent funding for humanitarian assistance has been received for Nigeria said something urgently needed to be done to provide support for the farmers.
The Head, Public Information Unit, United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) in Nigeria, Ms. Eve Sabbagh, in a communication with journalists on Tuesday, said: “It is extremely important to have funding in time to provide support to farmers during the planting season, as there is a risk to see more people facing hunger this year.”
She lamented that COVID-19 has risen the number of people in dire need of life-saving assistance to 7.8 million.
Sabbagh said before the pandemic in Nigeria, the humanitarian situation were already bad with 7.1 million people needing urgent life-saving assistance in 2019, the number has since grown to 7.8 million people due to COVID-19 in 2020.
According to her: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic reached Nigeria, humanitarian needs were already worsening and increased from 7.1 million people in need of urgent life-saving assistance in 2019 to 7.8 million people in 2020.
“UN and NGOs as well as government institutions had planned to step up their assistance in 2020. UN and partner NGOs needed $834 million to provide urgent aid to 5.9 million people.
“We are half-way through the year and so far only 15% of funding has been received. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the economy and livelihoods, many more people need urgent assistance.”
She revealed that: “In 2019, UN and NGO partners provided assistance to 5.2 million people. Every day they saved the lives of 650 children facing severe acute malnutrition in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Nearly three million people received food assistance and over four million benefited from health services.”
She said those aid providing organisations received funding on them, and had hoped to reach even more people this year, may have a difficult job in their hands because of paucity of fund.
Sabbagh said: “With the funds available now, aid organisations have been able to immediately react to the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanitarian have and are still setting handwashing stations, distribute soaps, and are setting up quarantine and isolation centres in the north-east.
“They are also continuing some vital activities, providing food, health and protection services to the most vulnerable.”
She however said that “with the rainy season and the lean season approaching it is critical to have the funding needed to bring assistance in areas like Rann which risk being cut off due to floods.“