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Famine looms in Northeast Nigeria, UN warns

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, has warned of an impending food crisis in the North East region of Nigeria, lamenting that insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic is heightening the dire situation.

Kallon said at the 20th meeting of the Joint Planning Board (JPB) and National Council on Development Planning held at Government House, Maiduguri, Borno State, on Wednesday that acute hunger threatens 4.4 million North-Easterners against the backdrop of a combination of heightened insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Represented by Ms. Esty Sutyoko, Kallon said at the three-day economic summit themed ‘Managing Nigerian Economy for a Sustainable Development in a Challenging Environment,’ that “we’re working together to alleviate suffering and save lives of people affected by a dozen years of conflict.”

While urging the Federal Government to assist in the provision of clean pipe-borne water, he mentioned that the group, WaterAid Nigeria has launched its hygiene response program: Scale-Up Hygiene Project-Phase II, for the ‘comprehensive and sustainable’ restoration of destroyed livelihoods as well as curb the spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases

The second phase of the project which will consolidate the benefits of the inaugural phase will focus on revamping existing hygiene promotion interventions and campaigns to increase access to improved hygiene, reduce the spread of COVID-19, support national and sub-national governments. It will also integrate water, sanitation, and hygiene in their COVID-19 response and vaccination strategy, the Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere stated.

 “To achieve this, WaterAid will empower communities with context-specific hygiene behavioral change promotion tools, insights, and materials designed to help them protect themselves from infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“The project will increase access to non-contact and inclusive hand washing facilities in key strategic locations and deepen advocacy strategies to key government stakeholders to prioritize, integrate and sustain water, sanitation, and hygiene access.

This will serve as a key preventive method for fighting against disease spread and ensure preparedness against future pandemics,” she stated.

The benefits accruing from the first phase of the project were in reaching and equipping 21 million residents in Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, and Oyo states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kallon concludes.

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