The Emir of the community of People Living with Disability (PLWD) in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Muhammed Sulaiman Katsina, and a PLWD rights activist/founder of the Albino Foundation, Pastor Jake Epelle, have commended the EU for coming to the aid of members of the community in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis in the country. They spoke in Abuja at the weekend, as the EU commenced the distribution of basic food items to vulnerable households, following weeks of lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alhaji Katsina said he was overwhelmed with emotions that the often excluded community was remembered in the distribution of palliatives by the EU, and expressed gratitude for the items, while praying God to reward the EU Delegation and its partners. Pastor Epelle said the exercise had again demonstrated the EU’s inclusivity principle at work and promised that the care package would get to the intended beneficiaries.
The EU Delegation in Abuja had last week distributed basic food items to vulnerable households in the Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in furtherance of its support to Nigeria’s COVID-19 response. Some 2,200 households whose livelihoods have been most impacted by the crisis were targeted in the exercise, carried out in close collaboration with local authorities of the benefitting communities. The Delegation also procured and installed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities to the benefiting communities as part of the gesture aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of the crisis on the most vulnerable persons.
The beneficiaries included PLWDs, female heads of households and widows, as well as families that depend on informal sector works that cannot be done during the lock-downs for their livelihoods. Also included are frontline caregivers. Information booklets on COVID-19 were also provided to the benefiting communities to enhance their awareness of the pandemic.
Benefiting communities were selected after a thorough needs assessment conducted by the EU and its partners. 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 the care package went PLWDs while the rest went to female heads of households, widows and other vulnerable households in pre-selected Abuja suburbs. Under the over N40 million intervention, each household was gifted with assorted food items, including rice, beans, processed cassava (garri), detergents, noodles sardines, salt, vegetable oil, tomatoes, seasonings, beverages and condiments.
At a community of PLWDs in the Abuja suburb of Karamajiji, 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. “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.
“We know it's not possible to feed every single Nigerian with assistance like this, but if we all contribute with whatever we can, big or small, we can make a real big difference. It is about that solidarity," Ambassador Karlsen stated.
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. Just recently, it announced a N21 billion contribution to Nigeria’s national response to the crisis, channelled through the UN COVID-19 Basket Fund. In addition, the EU 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. The Nigeria authorities have already taken delivery of the supplies, including test kits, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other vital items.