Nigeria and WFP Pioneer Use of Rickshaws and Boats to Get Food and Cash to Coronavirus-Affected City Hotspots

Photo: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa
Published October 6, 2020

KANO – The Nigerian Government and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a cash and food assistance program in the three urban COVID-19 hotspots of Abuja, Kano and Lagos. The Government has released 2,000 metric tons of food from its Strategic Grain Reserve (valued at $1 million), while the U.N. World Food Programme is releasing $3 million to provide cash assistance.

Working together with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, this is the first time that the U.N. World Food Programme is expanding its program in Nigeria to reach people in towns and cities – where millions of people are threatened with hunger and malnutrition due to the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country – people who earn the least have lost the most as a result of the pandemic. Approximately 90 percent of the population depend on a daily wage to survive, and many of these people live in urban areas. These informal workers have lost up to 80 percent of their earnings. With a lack of income and increasing food prices, more and more people are finding it extremely difficult to meet their food needs. The prices of basic cereals have risen by 15 percent in the last month alone, and the national price of millet – Nigeria’s staple food – has doubled over the past year. To cope with hunger, families are being forced to borrow money and food, or sell their remaining assets – plunging them deeper into poverty.

“This partnership has enabled us to save the lives of thousands of people in Kano State during these difficult times,” said Governor Ganduje at a joint press conference held today.

Distribution of cash and food began in Kano State to complement the Government’s ongoing efforts to cushion the impact of the pandemic. In the coming weeks and months, the U.N. World Food Programme will continue to work with the Governments of Abuja and Lagos to support the most vulnerable families.

To minimize the risk of exposure to the virus, the U.N. World Food Programme has arranged for home deliveries of cash and food. In Kano, food will be delivered using the local ‘ke-ke‘ rickshaw service. In Lagos, the U.N. World Food Programme is partnering with the State Government to deliver food using boats to reach families living in the riverine community of Makoko. Meanwhile, in all three urban areas, cash will be transferred through pre-paid debit cards or online bank transfers.

“The Government of Nigeria has shown great commitment and leadership in responding to this crisis. This is exactly what we need during this time of pandemic and beyond to achieve Zero Hunger in Nigeria,” said Paul Howe, U.N. World Food Programme Country Director and Representative.

# # #

Broadcast quality video available upon request – please contact

The U.N. World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

In Nigeria, the U.N. World Food Programme is working in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe – supporting some 1.8 million internally displaced people, returnees, children under the age of five and pregnant or breastfeeding women with life-saving food and nutrition assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme is also providing technical support to strengthen Nigeria’s government-led social protection systems and is scaling up its direct support in areas where COVID-19 threatens to drive up extreme levels of vulnerability.

The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was established on Wednesday August 21st, 2019 by an Executive pronouncement by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, H.E., Muhammadu Buhari GCFR at the inauguration of Ministers for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Ministry positions itself in light of the prevailing Humanitarian situation in the country through its Vision, Mission and Core values to promote Human dignity and Integration of basic Humane benevolence and compassion in the treatment of all Nigerians.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media

For more information, contact:

Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867
Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993