• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

What the World Food Programme brings to the table

Free food for pupils: An expensive food for thought (2)

The startling statistics of Nigerians who have fallen as the voiceless victims of food insecurity are reeled out year in, year out with the frightening figures, enough to prick the conscience of the political leaders. But do they really care enough to finding lasting solutions to them? That is the million-naira question.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), Nigeria, with a population of over 220 million people, being the largest on the African continent and the sixth in the world has 37% of that figure, put at about 84 million living below the poverty line,nationwide. Furthemore, 2.2 million are internally displaced in the BAY states of Bornu, Adamawa and Yobe. In fact, some 4.4 million people are food insecure, precisely in those three states. In addition 26.5 million Nigerians face acute hunger, virtually on daily basis. That is a staggering increase from 18.6 million as at December, 2023. Alarming, is it not? Of course, it is, worse still in a country ranked as the 10th largest crude oil producer in the world.

The reasons behind these searing figures of food insecurity include conflicts traced to terrorism, rising inflation and climate change that has resulted in drought and desertification, washing away of fertile farmlands, with gully erosion caused by the seasonal floods. The increasingly worrisome aspect of it all is that more and more citizens, especially the vulnerable group of women and children are currently enmeshed in nutrition insecurity.

That is despite the humongous sums of budgetary allocations-earmarked at the federal and state government levels-to lift the quality of life of the citizens, but with a sizeable part of such going to satisfy the epicurean tastes of the all-conquering political elite reminding us of aristocracy, colourfully garbed in the garments of democracy. But thank God that there is a global organization doing all it can to make the desired difference. There comes in the World Food Program.

With its Vision spelt out ,” to build resilience, adapt to climate change, promote good nutrition and improve food systems,” as well as “to lay the foundation for a more prosperous future, for millions of people across the world “, it is prioritizing its operations to reach 1.1million vulnerable people every month in northern Nigeria, especially at the Internally Displaced People,IDP camps.

On the global scale, it has the main goal to assist 80 million people in 80 countries each year. It is therefore, acting as a leading humanitarian organization, saving lives and changing lives. Good enough, it does so by delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

Overall, the vision of the WFP underlines the strategic plan to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition globally. That is in tandem with the SDG2 to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. Through its research findings it deploys WFP Data Strategy, considered as its first ever goal using charts and emergency technologies to accelerate its programmes.

The huge success so far achieved by the WFP can be traced to the leadership structure as led by the Executive Director, Cindy McCain, a distinguished humanitarian, business leader, and diplomat spanning four decades. Of course, she is being assisted by the Executive Board as the supreme governing body. It comprises 36 states, as drawn from the United Nations Organization, UNO’s Food and Agriculture Organization,FAO. That Board provides inter-governmental support, policy direction and the supervision of the activities of the WFP.

Indeed, there are significant lessons for other organizations to learn from the WFP’s Code of Conduct, firmly rooted in humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and its operational independence. It promotes the core values based on fundamental human rights.

All said, governments in Africa and other continents should do all that is possible to reduce crises that could lead to conflicts, wars, insecurity and food inflation that drag more innocent citizens into the pitiable pits of poverty and hunger. Also, the mass media should be carried along to sensitize the victims of terrorism and wasteful wars on getting access to food items,drugs and other interventions from concerned bodies that provide relief materials.That would reduce the weighty burden on the shoulders of humanitarian organizations such as the WFP.