Globally, poverty and food insecurity remain a huge challenge. Poverty, they say, nurtures hunger, illiteracy and diseases.
According to a 2022 World Bank report, 648 million, representing about 8 per cent of the global population live in extreme poverty, which translates to 2.15 dollars daily.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) brings the reality further home by declaring in a 2022 report that 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor.
The report, which is a product of the Bureau’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey, said the study measured poverty from different perspectives including health, education, and money.
A study by Vanessa Wright and a team of scholars citing a 2021 report by the Department of Agriculture established a link between poverty and food insecurity in the United States, which, most likely is replicated around the world, including Nigeria.
The study was entitled: “Understanding the Link between Poverty and Food Insecurity among Children: Does the Definition of Poverty Matter?’’
They declared that “32.1 per cent of households with incomes below the official poverty line face food insecurity, compared to 14 per cent of households with incomes above the official poverty line.
“Factors that put people at risk of low income (e.g., unemployment) were associated with a higher probability of food insecurity. Collectively, these findings draw a clear association between lower income and food insecurity”,
In the light if this, Oxfam Nigeria, with support from the European Union has tailored some of its intervention programmes in Nigeria towards tackling poverty and addressing food insecurity,
One of the projects is the European Union (EU) and OXFAM Strengthening Active Citizenship and Improve Service Delivery (OSAID) Project Adamawa and Kebbi states with a projected N434m in expenditure.
According to Dr Vincent Ahonsi, Country Director, Oxfam in Nigeria, it is a market improvement programme that is agricultural with gender mainstreaming in agriculture.
“What we try to do is to reach the poorest of the poor to see how we can improve their lives and livelihood and we know that most people in the rural areas of Adamawa and Kebbi states are farmers.
“So what we did was to provide them with the enablement ,the farm inputs, we know that in Nigeria, women generally don’t have access, access to resources, access to finances, access to land and access to farm inputs.
“Oxfam came in and provided all these to facilitate wealth creation, so they will be able to produce more from their farms, they will have the markets to take them to and they will have people who are waiting for them to buy them off them’’, he said.
Women play a major role in poverty alleviation and food security. In many instances, such as crisis situations, many women become breadwinners as they bear the burden of farming and fending for the children who fathers are crisis victims.
The project, therefore seeks to explore the potential in women as home builders and small scale farmers.
“ So we organise village savings and loans association and through this, the women meet regularly and put money together through contribution and they can borrow from it for investments.
“You find out suddenly that a woman who has been alone in the community now has a group to lean on; with friends she finds her voice and she is now valued.
“We also ensured that we educate these women on the reason why they need to participate in elections and vote for the people they think is the best people to serve their interests’’, he said.
Mr Enoch Bamaiyi, OSAID Project Coordinator, said that 80,000 households were reached in Kebbi and Adamawa states and with 70 per them being women.
Bamaiyi said that a lot of them have accessed finance while those without any means of livelihood have been able to access finance through the village savings and loan association programme.
To effectively use the money he said Oxfam also taught them technical skills on business management, business development, as well as facilitating linkages to market, promotional enterprise development agencies, both of government and also private sector players.
“They got grants, gifts, in terms of both assets like grinding machine milling machines, like animals to boost their asset base At home”, he said.
Dr Mary Paninga, the Executive Chairman of the Adamawa State Planning Commission, said that Oxfam did well in Adamawa in the fight against poverty programme.
“Today, because of the impact of OSAID and Oxfam, the community has come together ,they produce community development plans, which the State Planning Commission incorporates into the budget of the state.
“This is so as to carry all citizens along; I want to tell everyone that what Oxfam and OSAID has done exceptionally well especially in the technical support components of the citizens monitoring programme that is ICTs”, she said.
Mr Basiru Kalgo, a representative the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Kebbi, commended Oxfam and its partners for the project .
“ I want to appreciate the contributions of European Union, specifically Oxfam and its partners for the successful implementation of almost six years programme in Kebbi state.
“We have really learnt a lot of lessons, the citizens and government are trying everything possible to ensure that we maintain the good culture within the programmes.
“We have been greatly impacted and we will try to put all the necessary mechanism in maintaining it,’’ he said
A beneficiary Ms Zinge Ezekiel, from Adamawa, thanked Oxfam for programme adding that “I thank God I am benefitting from this.’’
Ezekeil said that Community Development Plan (CDC) was introduced to include women and the less privileged including Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
Another Beneficiary, Kabiru Danjuma, from Kebbi, said the presence of Oxfam in the state has reduced its poverty rate.
“Before then, we use to travel for over 250 kilometres to access banks but Oxfam helped us through the agency banking and I became one of the agents.
“I open accounts for villagers, enroll them for BVN and so far I have opened on the spot account for over 350 accounts for people and it made deposits ,transfers and withdrawals very easy’’, he said.
Danjuma said now, farmers have easy access to resources such as fertilisers and soft loans.