Worried by growing cases of malnutrition in the North East, as direct consequence of Boko Haram activities, the Australian government, through its High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Paul Lehmann, has offered to assist in providing food and other basic relief items to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in various camps.

To achieve this, the government has engaged a non-governmental organisation, Empower 54, to start small scale food production for humanitarian purposes to the IDPs.

At a news conference in Abuja, yesterday, Lehmann announced a grant of N11,712,624 has been provided to an initiative that would establish a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) production programme for outreach to the IDPs. The amount, he said, would be used to purchase ingredients, machinery and train production staff, to enable them produce the RUTF, for onward distribution to the beneficiaries, at no cost.

The Australian government said the project will save an estimated 12,000 malnourished children in the North East, annually.

Lehmann added that it is in the character of the Australian government to assist in solving food crisis in any country that experienced crisis of any form.

He made reference to a previous Direct Aid Programme (DAP) in Nigeria, which, according to him, the Australian government provided N217, 000, 000 to 25 organisations to build a prosperous and inclusive Nigeria. “This funding is directed at assisting people in a range of sector including education, agriculture, health, good governance, water and sanitation. DAP has a particular focus in helping most vulnerable members of the society, women, children and persons with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, IDPs are reportedly facing water shortage in Muna camp, located in Maiduguri, after one of its five solar-powered water pumps broke down.

Camp Coordinator, Tijjani Lumani said the camp is facing “serious water shortage” and added that “four other pumps in the camp are inadequate.” Muna camp, on the edge of the city, is currently home to some 41, 000 people, Lumani said. The water drawn up from boreholes is used for cooking and, crucially, washing to prevent the spread of disease through the densely populated camp of makeshift tents.

One aid worker involved in sanitation and health projects for IDPs living in Maiduguri described the water situation at Muna camp as “chronic. “The water shortage poses a serious health risk to IDPs because they may have to turn to other unclean water sources, which exposes them to water-borne infections like cholera and diarrhoea, said the aid worker who asked not to be identified.

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