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#COVID19: EU, Others Launch Impact Reduction Project In Northeast Nigeria

The project will strengthen Yobe state’s capacity to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods and to build resilience against future shocks.

The European Union (EU), Save the Children International, and Mercy Corps on Wednesday March 10, launched a project to ameliorate the far-reaching impact of the pandemic on households in Yobe State, Northeast Nigeria.

A statement by Amanuel Mamo, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children International, Nigeria on Thursday, said the project would focus on cushioning the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the daily livelihood of individuals in some conflict-affected areas in the state.

Yobe is one of the worst-hit states by the decade-long Boko-Haram/ISWAP insurgency that has killed at least 37,000 people and displaced more than two million people in the Northeast region, according to a global conflict tracker by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the West African country late February 2020, Yobe was struggling with extreme poverty occasioned by incessant terrorist attacks that kept residents of the agrarian state away from their farmlands.  

The state ranked seventh in the number of poorest states in the country with a poverty rate of 72.3 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 report on Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria. 

The humanitarian situation in the state has been further exacerbated by the pandemic-induced lockdown measures by the government to slow the virus’ spread. 

Although the Nigerian Government rolled out palliative measures for vulnerable citizens, many alleged the process of distribution of the relief packages was politicised.

For instance, Yobe residents accused government officials and politicians of diverting 500 bags of rice delivered by the North East Development Commission as a palliative to the people, according to a report by Cock FM on May 20,  2020.

‘5,000 households to benefit’

With funding from the EU, the newly launched project, to be run for two years, will benefit about 5,000 households (direct programme participants) by strengthening government and communities to respond to and recover from the impact of the pandemic and to building resilience to future shocks, the statement said.

This includes strengthening social protection systems and working with the State Social Registry.

“It is an EU priority to help Nigeria address the impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable. To date, the European Union and its Member States are leading the COVID 19 response as we can witness with the recent arrival of the almost 4 million COVAX vaccines which should target frontline health workers as a priority.”

“This is a landmark moment and another illustration of EU´s support to Nigeria and Yobe State to respond to the needs of those affected by the pandemic,” Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Ndubisi Anyanwu, Mercy Corps Nigeria’s Country Director, stated that the project would ensure vulnerable and conflict-affected households have restored and improved livelihoods that are more resilient to conflict and climate shocks and stresses.

 “It is critical that we take time to examine what works, as well as the challenges when it comes to ensuring that households have the skills, social networks, and opportunities needed to thrive in their daily lives,” he was quoted in the statement as saying.

The project is expected to strengthen Yobe’s social safety net, provide opportunities to enhance the capacity of child-led community forums, and strengthen their participation in community awareness for the protection of children, according to Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria.


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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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