A non-govermental organisation (NGO), Mary Dinah Foundation (MDF) in association with USAID have commenced a feeding program for women, children and other vulnerable across the 34 communities in Yobe state.
Already, a total of 16,000 persons including women, children and vulnerable as well as Internally Displaced People (IDP) across 34 villages in the state has started benefitting from the program.
The program which is targeted at providing over four million meals to participants annually, covers villages including: Damagun, Idi Barde, Fune IDP Camp, Jenga, Dogon Rigiya, Kasuwa, and Sabon Line.
Other partners of the program are United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (YSEMA) and Ministry of Health.
Chairperson of the Foundation, Mary Dinah, said the initiative promotes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education and Gender Equality.
Commenting on the purpose, she said, “It adequately complements existing nutritional programs in the Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) region.
“The core aim of the program is to contribute to the overall reduction in morbidity and mortality caused by malnutrition among infants and pregnant/lactating mothers.” Moreover, she added, “I would like to thank the American people for their generosity. It is their daily support that enables global projects of this scale to stay sustainable through USAID.”
On his part, Nutrition Director, Mary Dinah Foundation, Jerry Ezike, said the initiative was born out of the World Health Organisation (WHO) report that 45 percent of deaths among children under age 5 is related to malnutrition.
Speaking on the choice of North East region, he said, “Specifically, due to COVID-19, road closures and restrictions have led to further scarcity of food in already hard to reach areas, making food prices soar far above what the communities can afford. This program alleviates the perils of hunger and poverty.”
Also commenting, executive secretary, Yobe State emergency management agency, Mohammed Goje, said “This is a great opportunity we have to reduce child mortality that is caused by malnutrition and hunger.”
Similarly, Emir of Fune, His Royal Highness, HRH, Alhaji, Dr. Saleh Idris Ibn Usman, said, “We are happy that Mary Dinah Foundation has selected Fune town and Damagum to benefit from the Zero Hunger Program. We pledge our 100 percent support to see that the program achieves it’s objectives of preventing malnutrition to the benefit of our people.”
Meanwhile, the program also offers other complimentary activities to the beneficiaries and community at large including; Monthly Water And Sanitation Hygiene training, in partnership with UNICEF, with emphasis on curbing the spread of COVID19; IYCF sensitization through monthly mother to mother group coordination to promote best practice; Spreading nutrition messages consistently through MDF staff to community and religious leaders for greater impact; as well as referrals of all Gender Based Violence and Child Protection cases.
There are indications that the Mary Dinah Foundation and USAID are set to expand the Zero Hunger Program beyond Africa and increase the number of meals distributed to 20 million per annum by December 2021.