COVID-19: Humanitarian Ministry to focus support on vulnerable persons

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By Chimezie Godfrey

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umaru Farouq, says the ministry will focus on the poor, elderly and vulnerable persons in its response to COVID-19 in the country.

She disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, after a meeting with all the agencies, at which strategies were fashioned out for the nationwide response with emphasis to target the most vulnerable groups in the society.

“The ministry will adopt a multi-faceted approach which will also focus on the poor and vulnerable, the elderly, refugees, IDPs, persons living with disabilities, trafficked persons, petty traders, among others in its response to COVID-19 in the country. 

“The efforts of the Ministry will be part of the ongoing interventions of the Presidential Task Force on covid-19, but with a focus on the vulnerable groups in the country. 

“We are in an emergency and work must start immediately,”The Minister directed. 

She revealed that the Ministry’s COVID-19 Response Committee, comprised all the agencies supervised by the Ministry, working jointly to deliver emergency relief to vulnerable segments of our society. 

“Given the current global crisis as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, we must work together and deploy all of our resources in unison to support the national efforts for maximum impact.

“The National Emergency Management Agency under the Ministry will lead in delivering services and relief to people and most especially the vulnerable groups along with the other agencies, including NAPTIP, the North East Development Commission (NEDC) SDGs and the four components of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) namely N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme (NHSFP).

“The Ministry and the agencies have a collective responsibility to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and to save lives and alleviate suffering of people in line with its mission and mandate. 

“It is also our responsibility to act and coordinate all interventions that promote social development and strengthen social systems that provide support for and protection of vulnerable groups in Nigeria,” she said.

Farouq explained that the Ministry-led intervention will prioritize prevention and community engagement and increase sensitization   to curtail spread of COVID-19 particularly among the person of concern in the implementation of the initiative to drive the overall national strategy adopted by the PTF on Covid-19. 

She pointed out that the plan includes release of food items, early payments to beneficiaries of Conditional Cash Transfer, N-Power, grassroot communication of Covid-19 control measures using personnel, equipment, GEEP infrastructure, the provision of protective items such as face masks, sanitisers and soap for hand washing. 

She also directed all its agencies to make available both human and material resources  to NEMA and the Presidential Task Force for use in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“To provide some respite for the vulnerable, we will provide targeted social interventions to them to ensure every Nigerian identified as a vulnerable persons receives support.

“We will equally leverage the existing social intervention programmes to provide safety nets nationwide,”The Minister added. 

“The importance of the task ahead of us cannot be overemphasized as our innovations and strategies emanating from our collective efforts will cushion the backlash of the ongoing crisis.

“Given, the lack of precedent for a total lock down, I call on you all to be innovative, flexible, transparent and supportive while being on the lookout for lessons to be learned for future application,” she stressed.

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