The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced additional support for Nigeria in achieving the development goals outlined in the bilateral Development Objectives Assistance Agreement signed in 2015, between the U.S. and Nigerian governments.
In a statement on Friday, the Acting Mission Director, Erin Holleran, said a new funding of $26.5 million will be given to support health care and good governance in the country.
Holleran also said that the USAID will partner with federal and state health ministries to build stronger health systems with the aim of guaranteeing equitable access to quality healthcare services nationwide.
The statement said, “$25 million will strengthen good governance by supporting state governments’ efforts to bolster Nigeria’s Open Government Partnership commitments to improve transparency and fight corruption.
“An additional $1.5 million will support a healthier, more educated population in targeted states through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for a total of $26.5 million in additional assistance”.
The additional new funding brings the total U.S. government assistance provided under the five-year Development Objectives agreement to $1.1 billion.
According to Holleran, the USAID is committed to assisting Nigeria because of the huge influence the nation has on the future of Africa.
“The United States believes that as the most populous country in Africa, with the largest economy on the continent, Nigeria holds tremendous influence over the future of Africa.
“USAID is committed to partnering with the government and the people of Nigeria to address its development challenges,” Holleran said.
USAID collaborated with Nigeria’s ministries of Budget and National Planning, Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education, as well as state-level government counterparts to structure the bilateral assistance agreement, which runs through 2020.
The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) has said that about 57 Million people in Nigeria do not have access to portable and clean water and are therefore vulnerable to contracting water-borne and other related diseases if nothing is done to address the situation.
The agency has committed the sum of 2.5 million dollars for the improvement of safe water and sanitation in Kaduna and Bauchi states.
At the official launching of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Project (WASH) for Kaduna and Bauchi states, USAID mission Director, Mr Stephen Haykin says unsafe water and poor sanitation largely contribute to the high rate of child mortality in Nigeria.
He, however, asked all stakeholders in the water sector to join forces to ensure success in the achievement of the country’s water sanitation target, which according to him, will improve the living conditions of the people.
According to experts, only half of the nation’s population have access to portable drinking water and sanitation. This trend according to USAID and other stakeholders must be reversed if Nigeria must win the war against the child and maternal mortality.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources says it is not unmindful of the situation as it is making effort to correct the trend.
The launching of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordination Project by USAID is to provide support to new reform-minded state governments for the immediate term, and here, Kaduna and Bauchi are the benefiting states.
Meanwhile, Governor Nasir El-Rufai represented by his Chief of Staff, Bashir Saidu and his Bauchi state counterpart underscore the importance of water for sustainable development, hence they say they have committed many resources to the expansion of water projects in both urban and rural centres.
Apart from the infrastructural deficit in most States, stakeholders identify population explosion, obsolete legislations and rural-urban migration as some of the major challenges militating against access to clean water and poor sanitation.
The Federal Government is seeking partnerships that will assist Nigeria in her attainment of food sufficiency.
The Director in charge of Planning and Policy at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Awul Maidabino, made the disclosure during a joint steering committee meeting of the ministry in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Mr Maidabino emphasised that the ministry was responsible to partner with major stakeholders to develop effective policies that would create conducive environment for better private sector participation in the agriculture sector.
He explained that officials of the ministry were meeting with local and international organisations under the joint sector review committee, to discuss agriculture promotion policies and evaluate their strength and weaknesses.
In their remarks, the President of the Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association, Lizzy Igbine, and an official representing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, USAID, Baye Sylvester, highlighted the importance of the policies.
The meeting provided a platform for state and non-state stakeholders to assess the performance of the government, as well as and assist in setting sector policy and priorities.
Nigeria has a huge agricultural potential with over 84 million hectares of arable land of which only 40% is cultivated, and a reliable rainfall in over two thirds of its territory.
In spite of possessing some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world, the country is not a major player in the global agricultural market.
The government is hoping to improve its activity in the agriculture sector through a policy thrust that looks at diversifying the economy.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has advised federal and states governments to ensure judicious use of available health financing options in the face of dwindling global funding for the health sector in Nigeria.
A representative of the American agency, Mrs Celeste Carr, gave the advice at a workshop on health care financing for state commissioners of health and their legislators in Abuja.
According to her, Nigeria’s health sector can be appropriately financed even in the face of dwindling global funding if local funding options are properly utilized.
In the last one decade, the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), is said to have provided much funding for Nigeria’s health sector.
However, GAVI’s plans to stop the funding in the year 2017, has raised serious concerns about how the government will make up for the funding gaps that its exit and that of other donor partners would create.
Some participants in the forum have now advocated the need for a strong legal framework that will ensure universal health coverage and health care financing.
Meanwhile, a representative of the state’s Commissioner for Health, Balarabe Kakale, emphasized the need to implement the Abuja declaration of 2001 to improve financing for the health sector.
The nation’s annual appropriation for health has been fluctuating between 5.4 and 4.6 per cent of the total budget for the country since 2011.
However, in an attempt to improve the sector, the government is planning to scale the budget up to six per cent as it has earmarked 51 billion Naira for in the 2017 budget currently before the National Assembly.
The United States has announced about $92 million in additional humanitarian assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity in Nigeria and throughout the Lake Chad Basin region.
With this announcement, the United States is providing at least $291 million in humanitarian assistance since the 2016 fiscal year to people affected by the Boko Haram-related conflict and the related humanitarian crisis.
A statement by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) revealed on Tuesday that the U.S. has continued to be the single largest humanitarian donor to the region.
“This new funding to United Nations and NGO partners will help tens of thousands of people receive critically needed humanitarian assistance, including food, water, shelter and services to address acute hygiene, protection, and nutritional needs.”
In Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the conflict has left more than 6.4 million people in need of emergency food assistance and displaced 2.6 million people.
The U.S. estimated that an additional $1 billion was needed to meet the humanitarian needs of the people in 2017.
They called on other donors to contribute additional humanitarian assistance for the millions of people in the region whose lives have been affected by Boko Haram insurgency.
The Sokoto state government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States government to support primary education in the state.
Under the programme, which will run till 2020, not less than 500,000 school children will be reached.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal signed the agreement alongside the Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mr Michael Harvey.
He said that his government is committed to the full implementation of the project, passed to him from the previous administration.
“This development is clearly a further demonstration of your commitment and our commitment to the future of our children.
“You have clearly been a very good friend, and USAID and indeed the American government have been helpful in so many ways but this particular one which is supporting us in the area of promoting access to quality education in the state is really very key and dear to our hearts.
“I am sure several other states will follow suit and benefit from this benevolence of the US government,” he said.
Governor Tambuwal added that whatever commitment they are supposed to meet as a government they are “ready to meet and ensure that whatever comes to us is judiciously applied as enshrined in the content and letters of this MoU”.
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has said that the bill for the establishment of the state Health Insurance Scheme passed earlier in the week by the state House Of Assembly, will soon be passed into law.
The Governor disclosed this while kick-starting the distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets across the state at the Government House arcade, Agodi, Ibadan.
He said that the bill would serve as a veritable tool for universal health coverage for residents of the state, especially to cater for the rural populace.
“The government has conducted the re-alignment of the health care service delivery in the state.
“Earlier this week, the state House of Assembly passed the bill for the establishment of the state Health Insurance Scheme.
“This is a tool the Government will utilize to ensure universal health coverage for residents of the Oyo state.
“Equally, the state Primary Health Care Law will soon be promulgated for further coverage of the grassroots in healthcare delivery.”
The Governor commended the United State Agency For International Development (USAID), Federal Ministry Of Health and other partners for their intervention and supportive roles, which according to him had enhanced the wellness of the people of the state.
He said that their noteworthy support over the years had assisted in minimizing the scourge of malaria, as underscored by the reduction in the incidence of the menace by 45% when compared with the 2012 figures.
Governor Ajimobi believes that the state is winning the battle as the incidence of malaria has now reduced by 45% when compared with the incidence of year 2012.
According to him, the regular mass distribution of insecticidal nets, which is currently ongoing in all 33 local government areas of Oyo state, has aided in the fight.
Ajimobi further assured all developing partners that the government would intensify its multi-prong approach aimed at curbing the malaria scourge in the state.
At the event, the representative of USAID, Dr Bolatito Aiyenigba, said that 8,500 health workers had been trained on malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, adding that mosquito nets, diagnostic tests and antimalarial drugs had been supplied to various centers in the state.
Aiyenigba said that no effort should be spared in the fight against malaria in Africa, stressing that the continent alone bears 80% of the global burden of the disease.
Of this percentage, she said it was regrettable that Nigeria alone accounts for one-third of the burden.
The USAID representative, however, commended the state government for spearheading the fight against malaria in all parts of the state through many safety nets.
Highlighting other key disadvantages, she said “malaria is responsible for one in every ten deaths of mothers due to complications in pregnancy.
“Therefore, no effort should be spared to tackle the scourge at the local, state, national and global levels.
“Your excellency, there is indeed great evidence that shows your commitment and good work to ensure that your people live in good health and in a sound environment.
“Please continue to give the health sector the required priority in your government,” she urged.
The US government says it is setting up a framework within Nigeria to help curb the proliferation of fake and adulterated antimalarial drugs.
To this end, the United States government has launched a campaign against the theft and counterfeiting of antimalarial drugs donated by the American government to support the National Malarial Control Program in Nigeria.
The Deputy Inspector General in charge of the American supported Malarial Control Program in Africa in USAID, Jonathan Schofield told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that the Make A Difference campaign is aimed at arresting those who fake or divert antimalarial products for personal use.
According to him, antimalarial products including treated bed nets and medicines carrying the USAID brand, are meant to be distributed free of charge, as part of the contribution of the American government to eradicate malaria in Nigeria.
To achieve this, the US government is promising to give monetary reward for any useful information that would lead to the arrest of syndicates who hoard or fake the USAID funded malaria products in Nigeria.
Under the MAD campaign, Mr Schofield urged any Nigerian whistle-blower who has information and facts about the diversions to contact the US authorities through the telephone line – 08099937319.
A director at the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr Godwin Ntadom, said the quality of medicines used in the treatment of malaria in Nigeria is one of the major issues facing the fight against the disease in the country.
He raised alarm that the increasing availability of counterfeit drugs hampers the international drive to fight malaria.
Mr Ntadom says the proliferation of such fake drugs have disastrous consequences like treatment failure and even death.
Probing the funds
The USAID executive also hinted at a probe of how the funds deployed to different USAID anti-malaria initiatives were expended.
He says such probe will be restricted to US funded projects and would be done in partnership with Nigerian law enforcement officials.
Mr Schofield said such investigation will look into alleged illicit activities like diversion, kick backs, and embezzlement of funds meant for health programmes.
The 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) held in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, has ended, with more than $30 billion pledged in investments in agriculture in the next 10 years.
The investments will ensure increase in production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses, a statement issued by the forum on Friday said.
Channels Television’s correspondent, Ayoola Kassim, said that the forum delivered a massive infusion of both financial, political and policy commitments to African farmers and agriculture businesses on a continent eager for new, more inclusive opportunities for economic growth.
She says small-scale farmers are the main focus of the five-day intensive deliberation in Nairobi.
“The largest Private sector group in agriculture are small-holder farmers. They invest the largest proportion into agriculture than governments, private sector and development partners,” President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who was awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize, Kanayo Nwanze stated.
AGRF 2016 attracted more than 1,500 delegates from 40 countries, including African Heads of State, global business leaders, government ministers, farmers, agribusiness firms, financial institutions, NGOs, civil society groups and scientists, as well as international development and technical partners.
According to the AGRF organisers, the pledge is the largest single package of financial commitments ever delivered to African agriculture.
“Seize the Moment” Campaign
“It is backed by the broadest coalition ever assembled to support a transition from subsistence to income-earning agriculture in Africa.
“The AGRF partners concluded the meeting by embracing a detailed action plan that commits them to achieving specific milestones over the next 16 months as part of the “Seize the Moment” campaign that served as the theme for AGRF 2016.
“Seize the Moment” was first launched in April at the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) Partnership Platform in Accra, Ghana.
Addressing a press conference, the President of the African Development Bank and a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told the gathering that he was excited with the trend of events in the agriculture sector.
“I have bene into agriculture for a very long time and this is the time that everything seems to be coming together on finance, technology, institutions and political will to drive the change. We can be more excited than to be here,” he stated.
It has quickly become a rallying point for accelerating work around the African Union’s 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The transformation of Africa will only work if we transform agriculture,” said Kenya’s President, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking to a packed auditorium at the United Nations’ Africa Headquarters in Nairobi.
“This meeting has been not only important, but also very urgent,” he added.
“Because we are coming together at a time when our continent is filled with incredible opportunity, but at the same time it also is faced with profound threats in almost equal measure,” the statement read.
President Kenyatta stepped forward as one of the first champions of the “Seize the Moment” campaign with a commitment by his government to invest $200 million so at least 150,000 young farmers and young agriculture entrepreneurs could gain access to markets, finance and insurance.
The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, joined Kenyatta on stage to spur leaders on the continent and around the world to harness the potential of agriculture to fight hunger and poverty in Africa.
Rwanda has emerged as a strong example of what investments in agriculture can achieve.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda under Kagame’s leadership has achieved dramatic reductions in poverty, “owing largely to increased productivity and commercialisation in the agriculture sector.”
“We should not only seize the moment but continue the momentum for the transformation of agriculture and economies on our continent,” President Kagame said.
“Agriculture is not just one sector of the economy amongst others – it’s the backbone of the economy.”
Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, the Honorable Willy Bett, speaking at the AGRF closing ceremony, praised President Kagame and President Kenyatta for their commitment to the Forum and said it was now up to the AGRF delegates to “do our part and drive this agenda forward.”
In the final communiqué from the meeting, delegates pledged over the next 16 months to focus on smallholder farmers to achieve significant growth in agriculture productivity and profits in at least 20 countries while unleashing $200 billion in investments in the agriculture sector.
The action plan also commits countries to developing a public “scorecard” that would track progress and hold them accountable.
Specific commitments include unlocking 10 percent of public expenditures for agriculture, as many countries agreed to do when they first joined the CAADP partnership.
Actions steps also will involve launching innovative approaches to providing finance for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses and working through initiatives such as GROW Africa to bring in at least $20 billion in private investment.
“This has been the most productive AGRF since the call to launch the Green Revolution in Africa was made ten years ago by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,” the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which serves as the secretariat for AGRF, Agnes Kalibata said.
“As an alliance, AGRA is committed to working every day with our partners to ensure the ‘Seize the Moment’ campaign has a tangible, meaningful impact in the lives of millions of Africans.”
A key highlight from AGRF 2016 included the launch of the African Agriculture Status Report (AASR) for 2016.
The report detailed progress over the last decade and identified key priorities for moving ahead.
The head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gayle Smith, launched a global report entitled “A Food Secure 2030.”
She told delegates that as President Barack Obama’s administration comes to a close, she was confident that the US would continue to be deeply engaged in African agriculture for many years to come. She pointed to the overwhelming support across the political spectrum for President Obama’s Global Food Security Act and his Feed the Future initiative.
Other promises include pledges by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to continue their generous support for African agriculture and particularly for partnerships established by AGRA over the last ten years.
The Presidency has lashed out at UK tabloid, London Telegraph, over an article it published on July 30 which suggested that the Nigerian government is diverting funds meant to combat terrorism to persecute President Muhammadu Buhari’s political foes.
Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday that the claims were incorrect and unhelpful to Nigeria’s war on terrorism, rather it further strengthens the insurgents’ quest to divide Nigeria.
The London Telegraph’s article “Children Face Death by Starvation in Northern Nigeria” (30th July, 2016) repeats a claim from an earlier piece “Nigeria Using UK Aid to Persecute President’s Political Foes” (12th April, 2016) – that Nigeria is diverting UK aid monies away from defeating the Islamist terror group Boko Haram towards those the newspaper identified as political opponents of the Buhari administration.
“This is as incorrect as it is unhelpful,” Mr Shehu said.
“These claims in both articles are attributed to an unnamed ‘source’ in the United States, and ‘Western officials’. Yet when the first article was published it drew the condemnation of the US Embassy in Abuja as having drawn conclusions directly opposite to the position of the US government.
“To state the facts: the UK government does not give development aid to the Nigerian administration for use in military operations against Boko Haram. Where British military support – such as intelligence – is provided, it is precisely and only, given for operations directly against Boko Haram.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Government is in no position to divert aid monies used for emergency relief for refugees or IDP camps for any other purpose, as these are dispensed directly by DFID, USAID, the United Nations, the International Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and many other organizations – with which we enjoy excellent relations.
“The humanitarian situation in these camps is real. The Administration remains deeply concerned about the medical, health and nutrition challenges and we are doing everything with the limited resources we have at our disposal to improve the situation.
“However, the blame for the plight of refugees lies with Boko Haram. They are its cause, not the Nigerian Government.
“In the light of ongoing efforts, we regret the recent attack on the UN humanitarian convoy in the Northeastern region and are encouraged by the world body’s determination to continue rendering assistance to the displaced victims.
“That the attack was repelled by Nigerian troops escorting the convoy shows precisely how the Government and humanitarian agencies are working together.
“As for claims that the administration is targeting Christians and the opposition, these are without foundation.
“Since assuming office, President Buhari has treated all Nigerians without bias for ethnicity or religion – as the composition of his cabinet and the policies and programmes of his administration demonstrate.
“To suggest his government as deepening Muslim-Christian division is not only untrue, but plays into the hands of Boko Haram who wish to divide Nigerians along religious lines.
“Fighting this group is key priority of President Buhari’s administration. Indeed, the international community has widely acknowledged his determination to defeat terrorism in Nigeria and the entire Lake Chad Basin.
“There is nothing to gain by attempting to mould public opinion against these facts. Therefore, we invite The Telegraph to visit Nigeria to witness first hand, not only the challenges we face, but the administration’s determination to confront them.”
The United States government has launched a $1 million programme to support HIV/AIDS affected children and families in Nigeria.
The programme was launched by the Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Michael Harvey, in Benin City, the Edo State capital in south-south Nigeria.
Speaking on Wednesday at the Edo State Government House, Mr Harvey said that the programme would benefit 15,000 families affected by HIV/AIDS in Edo, Benue, Kogi and Nasarawa States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
He also pledged that the US would continue to assist Nigeria to overcome the current economic and security challenges in the nation.
The United States has urged Nigeria to increase funding of the agriculture sector to end poverty and build greater capacity.
The Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr Michael Harvey, made the appeal on Monday at a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and state representatives at the US embassy in Abuja.
Mr Harvey identified lack of capital and research among other challenges as a major hindrance to job creation and development in the sector.
He said that the neglect of the agriculture sector has given rise to hunger, poverty and a huge population of youths struggling to find jobs.
The US official expressed worry at the challenge faced by the American government in seeking to intensify partnership to assist the sector to be economically productive under the Feed the Future initiative.
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, on his part commended the support of the US towards improving the sector.
He also hinted that the Federal Government would launch an agriculture fund to improve investment.