The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, FMHDSD, yesterday enumerated 13 important facts to note about the proposed feeding of pupils while they stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouk, had on the 29th of March, disclosed that the Federal Government aimed to continue feeding the public school pupils during the pandemic to ease the stress off the parents who have been adversely affected by the limbo the economy has been brought into. The proposal has been intensely debated by the public who wondered how the Ministry aims to achieve that, given that the pupils may be scattered in different locations far and wide. To this effect, the ministry has explained 13 points to enable the public understand how they strategise for the task. In April last month, Anietie Ewang, a researcher at the Human Rights Watch, said: “Millions of Nigerians observing the COVID-19 lockdown lack the food and income that their families need to survive. The government needs to combine public health measures with efforts to prevent the pandemic from destroying the lives and livelihoods of society’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
According to the Human Rights Watch, “The informal sector, in which more than 80 percent of Nigerians work, includes a wide range of occupations, from street traders, taxi drivers, tradesmen, and artisans to food vendors and hairdressers. In Lagos alone, according to research by nongovernmental organizations, 65 percent of the estimated 25 million people work in the informal sector. Informal workers have lower incomes, often do not have savings, health insurance, or pensions that provide a basic social safety net, and 72 percent are poor.”
Therefore, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, FMHDSD, has explained that the modified Home Grown School feeding Programme will commence on Thursday May 14, 2020 in Abuja, and subsequently in Lagos and Ogun before going to other states of the federation. They enumerated the following
- Why are school children being fed at home?
The programme is being implemented based on a March 29, 2020 presidential pronouncement directing FMHDSD to liaise with state governments to develop strategies on the continuation of the school feeding program.
- The Ministry in consultation and collaboration with state governments identified the distribution of Take-Home Rations (THR) to the households of the children on the programme as a feasible method of achieving this directive after exploring several options.
- In order to trace the children who are at home due to the lockdown, FMHDSD requested states to carry out mapping exercises in order to trace the households of the children using all available data sources including the School Based Management Boards, community focal persons, cooks on the programme and most importantly existing school registers in the LGAs where the schools are domiciled, which is the primary source of data of beneficiaries used by the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme. As a second level of verification, the door to door voucher distribution process will be used. This is currently ongoing in Abuja and Lagos.
- FMHDSD is not implementing the programme? The Federal Government is providing funds to the States for implementation and the programme will be carried out based on data provided and structures put in place by the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP, over the years.
- The programme will run in all 36 states and the FCT. Following requests from Kwara & Bayelsa where the programme was not fully operational before the lockdown, the two states will now benefit from the modified programme once certain requirements are fulfilled.
- Contrary to ongoing speculation, the Take-Home Rations would NOT be given to CHILDREN but to the parents and guardians and caregivers of children in primary 1 to 3 in public schools participating in the programme. A total of 3,131,971 households are targeted for this intervention.
- For beneficiaries to be able to access the Take-Home Rations QR coded vouchers will be distributed door to door. They will be serialized as well as date and time stamped. Once presented at a distribution centre, identified head of households would be able to collect the Take-Home Rations.
- Each Take-Home Ration is valued at N4,200 & made up of 5 kg Bag of Rice, 5 kg Bag of Beans, 500 ml Vegetable Oil, 750 ml Palm Oil, 500 mg Salt, 15 pcs of eggs, 140gm Tomato Paste. These rations have been reviewed by nutrition experts.
- Safety remains a collective responsibility, so the ministry has incorporated rapid sensitization into all phases of this model, so that people are equipped with the knowledge they need to stay safe and maintain social distancing.
- To ensure that the programme is not mismanaged, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development has requested other government agencies including the Department of State Security Service, EFCC, ICPC_PE, the Code of Conduct Bureau, and a host of NGOs & CSOs to help monitor. The Ministry’s hotlines will be made available to the public to provide accurate information and for grievance redress
- The Ministry is receiving Technical Support from the World Food Programme (WFP). Following on the technical partnership with the WFP, a joint document on “Safe Distributions during COVID” has been developed and will be shared with the State Governments before implementation.
- FMHDSD is cognizant of the fact that some states have children not already on the programme? While this is primarily for school children currently enrolled on the programme, the ministry has also been engaging partners and other agencies to explore options for those children who are not current beneficiaries.
- The Take Home Rations would be distributed from over 6,000 schools which will serve as distribution centers for clusters of communities except in some states with unique security and safety issues where other structures will be used.
This is a glimmer of hope for the parents who have been most affected by the halt to economic activities. How this will be transparently implemented by the states is a big factor, because according to recent observations, state and local governments have disappointed expectations in their distribution of palliatives. People have become very sceptical due to high probability for officials to indulge in sharp practices that the leaders and decision makers are barely aware of.
Source: Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria