The United Nations women through Gender Awareness Trust (GAT) on Tuesday floated coalition of women leaders in government, business and civil society for possible collaboration in response to the second wave of COVID-19 in Kaduna State.
This is even as the Commissioner, Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, restated that the State Government had repatriated and reunited over 30,000 Almajarai children in response to COVID-19.
Hafsat, who chaired the inaugural meeting of the Coalition at a hotel in Kaduna noted that “if all the sectors (government, business and civil society) that are here will collaborate with good coordination, it will go a long way in supporting government’s efforts in addressing issues around the second wave of the COVID-19.
Let the people at the community level understand that this virus is real and how they can protect themselves.
“On the Almajirai, we felt these are the category of children who can neither take care of themselves nor follow COVID-19 protocols. So, we ensure they are being reunited with their mothers to be taken care of.
“So far, we have reunited over 30,000 children with their parents. We are still on it until we don’t see children in the street again. We also received about 1,187 from other states. When they came, some of them tested positive for COVID-19 and then we have to keep them in isolation to get medication before we reunited with their families.
“Seeing what we were doing, UNICEF also supported us to get data on all the Almajarai children that are from Kaduna State which we have done in six Kaduna local government include Kaduna South, Igabi and Zaria where we get about 10,817 which is the highest so far in the country. With this data, we are going to look at their enrolment since education is free in Kaduna State from primary to secondary.
“I keep telling people that this Almajarai is a business because once it is a business, those people that benefit money these children beg for will not want it to stop that is why they keep bringing them back.
“Again, if we look at our communities, we see is a family having between 10 and 30 children who they cannot take care of. At the end of the day, they will prefer giving them to Malams to take care of them. Parental care is very important.
“We are not deterred. We are not worried about what people say because it is the responsibility of the government to protect them. Don’t forget that we have signed a law on Child Protection and Welfare. They are not supposed to be used as tools to cater for bigger ones. They must enjoy security. They must be protected. They must be fed. They must be educated and they must have adequate health care”, she said.
The only female member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Comfort Amwe, who was part of the Coalition told newsmen that, “he Coalition is coming so timely and we know government, companies and some individuals also key into it. The members of the Coalition, in this case, are the leaders of homes when it comes to the management of COVID-19 protocols and education.
“With coalition being formed by leaders of women in government, business and civil society, their coming together with their wealth of knowledge to see that their objective is realised through advocacy to ensure all of us stay alive is very important”, she noted.
Earlier, the Executive Director, GAT, who convened the meeting, Dr Lydia Umar said, the decision to form the coalition was born out of the new wave of the COVID-19 and the fact that the virus was on the increase with no idea of when it will end.
To her, “women should take their rightful position as leaders of organisations including those in government to come together to see how we can put our strength together to push and harness the response to COVID-19 including the recovery approach and processes.
“We are hitting the ground running. We have already received a lot of commitment from the participants who seem to be ready. Unlike before, everyone was doing her own thing which has not helped us to know where we are. Now we are having a collaboration that will work with a collaborative framework and work plan for implementation.
“Of course, a tool will be developed to monitor what we are doing to keep data and report to share when a need arises. If this succeeds, it will be like a model to other states because government alone cannot do it”, she added.