The Nigeria One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund Project Board (comprising Honourable Ministers from relevant Federal Ministries and representatives from Fund contributing donors, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the UN in Nigeria), held its inaugural Project Board meeting. In attendance were, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health; Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu Director-General, NCDC; Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Dr. Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator and Co-chair Presidential Task Force; Amb. Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, H.C. Catriona Laing British High Commissioner to Nigeria, and Dr. Paulin Basinga, Country Director, Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation among others.
The Project Board reviewed and agreed on the Basket Fund’s operational modalities and reviewed the funds status report. In addition to US$12 million approved for the procurement of PPE’s in April 2020, the Project Board approved an allocation of US$ 10 million to WHO-UNICEF for the acquisition of testing kits and laboratory equipment. The decision by the Project Board is based on the recommendations by the Basket Fund’s Technical Committee, which coordinates technical expertise related to the Fund’s operationality. A report on funds received and allocated through the Basket Fund will be publicly available through the UNDP Nigeria website.
In his opening remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria and co-chair of the Project Board Mr. Edward Kallon noted that the Basket Fund is a strong demonstration of the commitment to multilateralism and alignment of resources to address the pandemic. “Given the nature of the pandemic and the response the Basket Fund is supporting, we should not lose sight of the urgent need to strengthen state-level coordination of the response and impact of the pandemic on women, the informal sector and vulnerable groups” he added.
The objective of One UN COVID-19 Response Plan for Nigeria Basket Fund is to ensure optimum care of confirmed COVID-19 cases and contain the spread of the outbreak through an inclusive and nationally owned process and based on emerging best practices from previous health emergencies as well other countries experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.
In his remarks, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, noted that fight against COVID-19 was a long journey. He emphasised the country must be ready to review and modify its response strategy, including putting in place robust action plans that ensure the healthcare systems can cope with the increasing numbers of community transmissions.
The ‘One UN COVID-19 Response Plan for Nigeria’ presents a comparative advantage, because funds channelled and allocated through the Basket Fund are promptly deployed for effective implementation in support of the response. The platform also creates a political space necessary for better alignment and cohesion among national and international stakeholders in the broader COVID-19 response in Nigeria.
“I have never seen a mechanism of this nature established so rapidly. It is a true reflection of the need to act with urgency The European Union has made a contribution of €50millionto the Basket Fund, a significant proportion of funding towards the pandemic response made outside Europe ” said, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS
The fund will be implemented over 24 months, managed by UNDP on behalf of the wider UN System in Nigeria. The ultimate beneficiaries of the Basket Fundare Nigerians in all States where project interventions will be carried out. This project has a specific focus on the poor, marginalised and most vulnerable including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, IDPs/refugees, people living with HIV/AIDs, among others.
“The Federal Government has adopted a whole-of-government approach to deal with what has now become a health and humanitarian crisis. We also need to address the social impact of COVID-19, including challenges of loss of income, food insecurity and economic breakdown affecting the most vulnerable. The complementary support of the UN system will help the Government to address the compounding challenges emerging from the pandemic.” said, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.