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Saving lives means giving food, not just testing people – ECOWAS

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By Fanen Ihyongo, Kano

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday said the provision of food to people, particularly the less privileged, was more important than just testing people to determine their COVID-19 status.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources and Environment, Sangare Sekou, stated this while handing over 3.10 million tons of cereals donated by ECOWAS to Nigeria.

“Saving human lives, yes this is what it is about when it comes to respecting barrier measures, carrying out as many tests as possible, taking care of the sick, etc.

“But we know that saving lives also means giving food to people affected, not only by the Coronavirus, but also providing food to our brothers and sisters and parents affected by terrorism and banditry, violent conflicts and climate change, and where most of the women and children have been forced to flee their villages to settle further, very often in extreme poverty circumstances,” Sekou said.

Handing over of the food stocks and signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ECOWAS and the Nigerian government took place at the ECOWAS/FMARD Grain Depot, Hotoro, Kano State.

Sekou signed for ECOWAS, while the Minister for Foreign Affairs, represented by Ambassador Zubairu Gada, signed for Nigeria.

The Nation reports that ECOWAS donated a total of 3,999 tons of cereals as grant to people affected by COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Sekou said the first donation consists of 1,196 tons of cereals: 598 tons of sorghum and 598 tons of millet, financed by the humanitarian emergency funds of the ECOWAS.

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The second donation consists of 2,803 tons of cereals, including 690.5 tons of maize, 1,544.9 tons of sorghum and 567.6 tons of millet.

The donation is as a result of the agreement between ECOWAS and the European Union, to allocate “unallocated resources” from the food security storage support project in West Africa, funded by the European Union.

ECOWAS donation to Nigeria is coming after the commission donated to Burkina Faso, Niger and the Republic of Mali.

The Commission also commended President Muhammadu Buhari on his fight against COVID-19, adding that the graph of the effect of the pandemic is slowing down in Africa.

“We observe that significant progress has been achieved in all countries where the rate of persons discharged exceeds 80 percent and death rate of less than 1.6 percent,” Sekou said, calling Buhari “Champion of the fight against Coronavirus.”

Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, said Buhari had mandated her ministry to carry out intervention in states and communities to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.

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