Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The United States Government has announced donation of $102 million to Nigeria for humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
The donation was in addition to several other financial and logistics interventions by the US and other countries, towards alleviation of the living conditions of people displaced by years of Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, disclosed this at a meeting organised for Federal Government officials and different donor agencies in Abuja, yesterday. The meeting also discused humanitarian challenges in the North East.
Symington said the donation is a significant tax contribution of every man and woman in the US, with an understanding that Nigeria occupies critical position in global socio-economic discussions.
“That was why Nigeria got the largest share of $102 million investment in Africa. The assistance will be administered primarily through the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) offices of Food for Peace (FFP) and Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), as well as the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration.
“We are optimistic that the intervention will complement the effort of the Nigerian government to restore hope in the lives of the affected people.
“We know how hard it could be but we are more committed than ever, to support the Nigerian government, in its effort to uplift the living conditions of people in the destroyed communities in the North East.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, appreciated the intervention and promised that the resources would be used judiciously to rebuild and restore the hopes of the displaced persons.
At the meeting, Borno State Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Prof. Baba Gana Umara, said they have made tremendous progress in the rebuilding of communities destroyed by Boko Haram.
He appreciated the support and commitment of the federal government and Governor Kashim Shettima, to the return of the displaced persons to their ancestral lands.
As at May 2018, an estimated 2.3 million people in the North East experienced acute food shortage, largely due to widespread insecurity, protracted displacement, depleted assets and the interruption of agricultural production throughout the region.
Overall, an estimated 7.7 million people in the North East require urgent humanitarian assistance according to the US.
On January 26, USAID announced $89 million in additional development assistance to Nigeria; to continue its support for development goals outlined in a Development Objectives Assistance Agreement between the US and the Nigerian government.
The agreement was signed in 2015.
Nearly half of the new funding ($44 million) will support HIV/AIDS control through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The remainder will help the North East increase agricultural productivity and economic growth ($15 million); strengthen education ($11 million); support good governance ($10.5 million); and improve water and sanitation infrastructure ($9 million).
The new funding brings the total US government assistance provided under the five-year assistance agreement to $808.5 million.
USAID Acting Mission Director Julie Koenen said: “This new assistance underscores how important the relationship between Nigeria and the United States continues to be. Our strong partnership with Nigeria and its institutions will help Nigeria’s efforts to improve its health, education, agriculture and governance systems where they are needed most throughout the country.”
USAID collaborated with federal ministries of Budget and National Planning, Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education, and state-level government counterparts, among others, to structure the bilateral assistance agreement, which runs through 2020.
In addition to the development assistance funding, the US provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity in Nigeria and throughout the Lake Chad Basin. The US government, led by USAID has also provided more than $526.7 million in humanitarian assistance since 2017, and continues to be the single largest bilateral humanitarian donor to the region.