By Victoria Ojeme
The West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) as lauded member states COVID-19 response as the region records 92.7 percent recovery rate.
It however urged that the region focuses on food security and nutrition as these remain the dominant threat after the pandemic in the region.
More than 43 million people in west Africa are likely to be in urgent need of food assistance in the coming months – double the initial estimates – as the Covid-19 outbreak accelerates, the World Food Programme said.
The WFP had estimated a 70 percent rise in food insecurity to 21 million people in west Africa this year before the outbreak, but now anticipates a further 22 million becoming reliant on food aid by August, unless major steps are taken. Already, a major food crisis has hit Nigeria with citizens forcefully emptying government food reserves.
Namoudou Keita, a representative of the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), while dilating of the epidemiological situation and easing measures observed in the response to COVID 19 in ECOWAS region confirmed that as of Sunday 25th October 2020, there is 92.7 percent recovery rate of COVID 19 cases in West Africa.
He said out of 187,483 confirmed cases in the region, ECOWAS region has 173,818 recoveries, with 2,739 deaths.
Mohamed Diop, Regional Representative Action Against Hunger West and Central Africa said the success of Africa as a whole in fighting COVID 19 shows that Africans are resilient people. He said “all of our success comes from the fact that we have expertise in fighting diseases pandemic.” He however said that West and Central Africa are fraught with situations of malnutrition which might affect the socio-economic development and growth of countries. He said, the goal of the workshop is to further mobilize MPs in their efforts on food sufficiency and security during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Earlier, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, serving as chair of a high level regional meeting with West and Central Africa parliamentarians on mobilizing parliamentarians and keeping nutrition as a Priority during COVID 19, urged for the prioritization of advocacy on the protection of the right to food in region especially during this period of Covid-19.
The Speaker in his address during the opening and general introduction session of the meeting said “this meeting is very timely as early indications coming from research shows that COVID 19 is likely to affect food security and nutrition as movements of farmers are being restricted thus disrupting the chain of production, processing and food supply.”
He said furthered that as Members of Parliaments they must be seen to vigorously working with their respective governments and non-governmental organizations and UN Agencies so as to ensure quality food intake is maximized during this global pandemic.
As a way of highlighting what they as MPs have done so far to achieve the threshold of food sufficiency in the West Africa region during this COVID 19 period, the Speaker confirmed that some of the parliaments in the West African region, including the one in his home country Sierra Leone have “established the parliamentary alliance on food security and nutrition and have engaged in several capacity building training workshops and activities on right to food, legislative approaches to improving nutrition, school feeding, responsible investment in agriculture and food systems and land tenure for food security, as well as existing legal frameworks for food and nutrition security and gaps.”
Tunis said due to the capacity building which MPs have undergone, parliamentarians are now in better position to envisage likely impact of COVID 19 on food security and nutrition in their countries and possible areas of policy and legal reforms.
Meanwhile, a lot of other deliberations where held during the meeting including a session on the situation of COVID 19, impact and resilience of West and Central Africa communities; and another session on the Role and Responsibilities of Parliamentarians and their Innovative Initiatives Supporting National Responses. These sessions were followed by a plenary session on the discussion of all group work and endorsement of the declaration.
The meeting was climaxed by closing remarks of the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament Honourable Sidie Mohamed Tunis who advised all MPs to work on achieving points made in the declaration. He said his office is always open to assist with whatever is required of him to ensure that malnutrition is curtailed in the region.
The meeting between West and Central Africa parliamentarians on mobilizing parliamentarians and keeping nutrition as a Priority during COVID 19 was conveyed by Action Against Hunger, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation and a host of other international NGOs and took place by virtual videoconference and comprised of MPs and representatives from nine (9) West and Central Africa countries including: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.