By Justina Auta
Abuja, Nov. 5, 2020 Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, says 18,000 vulnerable women, girls and persons with disabilities will receive cash palliatives and hygiene products as measures to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tallen disclosed this at the launch of the community mobilisation intervention for the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) project on Thursday in Abuja.
The minister said that the project was funded by the European Union, through the One UN Basket Fund for COVID-19 response in Nigeria to enhance community engagement, check stigmatisation and mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic on vulnerable persons.
According to her, beneficiaries of the palliatives selected from 15 states worst hit by the effects of the pandemic such as rape, sexual and other forms of violence, as well as HIV/AIDS and women with disabilities.
She added that “the project is to support two worst hit local government areas by COVID-19 pandemic in 15 states of the federation.
“Such effects include rape, sexual and other forms of violence, as well as HIV/AIDS and women with disabilities.”
Tallen said that the ministry would work with the UN Women, state ministries of women affairs and some selected Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to ensure that the cash palliatives reached the target groups, as well as monitor its utilisation by the beneficiaries.
”The cash palliative value is projected at N30,000 per household, to be disbursed in two tranches of N15,000 each for two quarters,” she explained.
She revealed that at the end of the project in April 2021, it would have increased women’s awareness of sexual violence and COVID-19 pandemic, improved behavioural change, livelihoods, as well as preventive measures and participation in Coronavirus responses in the targeted states.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said the interventions would promote participation of grassroots women in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus and enhance their roles in ensuring accountability of stakeholders in delivering services to vulnerable populations.
Represented by Ms Comfort Lamptey, the UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Kallon said “the interventions would mobilise more than 100,000 vulnerable women and girls to adopt and champion the dissemination of behavioural change messages in their communities.”
He reiterated the commitment of the UN system toward supporting governments to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA ), Dr Gambo Aliyu, said that COVID-19 had disrupted HIV services in the country.
Aliyu, however, explained that the agency, with support from various associations, had been able to ensure that person’s living with HIV/AIDS received their drugs during the lockdown.
He stressed the need for community participation, which he said would lead to increased risk awareness in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that “Nigeria has identified prevention interventions to limit the spread of the virus by involving communities in the fight against the spread of the disease through improved risk communication, social mobilisation and community engagement.”
Mrs Helen Alpan, representing Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN), said the COVID-19 pandemic had aggravated the challenges affecting its members, particularly their inability to access drugs, good nutrition and sources of income.
Alpan, however, assured the association’s commitment toward achieving the goals of the RCCE project.