As part of its response to assist the Federal Government tackle the effect of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the European Union (EU) on Thursday began the distribution of basic food items to vulnerable households in the Federal Capital Territory, beginning with Karonmajiji community.
The EU is targeting a total of 2,157 households whose livelihoods have been most impacted by the crisis.
Recall the EU only recently, announced a N21 billion contribution to Nigeria’s national response to the crisis.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, who led a team for the exercise, called for solidarity to defeat COVID-19.
He said the gesture aims at mitigating the adverse economic effects of the crisis on the most vulnerable persons. He explained that benefiting communities were carefully selected after a thorough needs assessment conducted by the EU and its partners.
Karlsen further explained that the choice of the beneficiaries and distribution of the items are being done in concert with the local leaderships of the selected communities. A quarter (25 per cent) of the items will go to People with Disabilities (PWD); the rest will go to female heads of households and widows as well as other vulnerable households in pre-selected Abuja suburbs. Each household will receive assorted food items, including rice, beans, detergents, noodles sardines, salt, vegetable oil, tomatoes, seasonings, beverages and condiments.
Also included in the over N40 million intervention is the installation of public sanitation facilities in the communities and provision of information booklets on COVID-19 to enhance public awareness on the virus. Karlsen said: “We are focusing on the immediate needs of the most vulnerable because they always pay the highest price when the economies are struggling,” he said.
Among them, he added, are people with disabilities, women and children – with intensified risks of violence – and poor people depending on the informal sector to get food on the table every day.
Karlsen added that the EU has been working with the Nigerians authorities and other partners to provide a swift, effective and holistic response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The EU ambassador said the N21 billion contribution channelled through the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund. In addition, the EU he said has also assisted UNICEF to procure vital health supplies to provide care for infected persons while containing further spread of the virus in the country.
According to him the Nigeria authorities have already taken delivery of the supplies, including test kits, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other vital items.
The Emir of the disabled in the FCT, Alhaji Muhammed Sulaiman Katsina, in his remarks, said he was overwhelmed with emotions that the disability community was remembered in the distribution of palliatives by the EU.
The emir who was they were full of gratitude for the items prayed for God to reward the EU delegation and its partners.
Founder of the Albino Foundation, Pastor Jake Epelle, said the whole idea of the distribution was to show the inclusivity principle of the EU.
He thanked the ambassador who he described as the champion of people with disability in and outside the country.
“I remember when the Ambassador took the donations to Mr. President, he specifically mentioned persons with disability and today they have further demonstrated their interest in the community by bringing the much needed resources to the people who need them.
“Let me make a commitment before the EU, national audience and international community that this is a remarkable effort by an organization to the people that are underserved and we want to make a firm promise that we will show accountability, integrity and equity. These things must go to people who need them, not a dime or pinch will go home with us because we have means of livelihood. We need to ensure that the most vulnerable people amongst us are taken care of. It will be a total disservice if we try to do things selfishly for ourselves at the expense of the people we are called to lead.”
Epelle also charged the media, as the watch dog of the society to hold them accountable and ensure the items get into the hands of those who need them.
The Chairman of the Joint Association of Persons With Disabilities, Suleiman Abdulmumuni, in his remarks thanked the EU for what he called “wonderful support” for persons with disability.
He said for persons with disability have the capacity to lead and promised to ensure everyone in the community gets equal support without discrimination.
“Everyone of us is for the community. Many of us think that persons with disability cannot coordinate themselves and cannot handle issues that concern them. Even in National Assembly sometimes you have disagreements so it’s not different with us as well.
“So as you can see persons with disability are all united in this fight. And I thank the media for the support given us in the community and for bringing our plight to the knowledge of the government, to let them know that this group is a priority.”