By Woodstream Hospital
This is part of the ColdHubs
In March, the temperature of Kano, Nigeria’s largest city, plummeted to 14C – exactly when its residents need to eat. The biggest mass evacuation of food in the city’s history was launched as part of a massive humanitarian mission. The food came from a local government office in Edhi Collection and Thrift, a charity based in Abuja, Nigeria, and arrived at the hospital on 16 March. READ MORE: Global story of human need Global food crisis hits Niger Even when temperatures fall below 0C, people in Nigeria’s north east often survive by eating their land and animals. This often sees people crossing the border with Nigeria, or hiding in bushes on their way out of the country. But now two months after the mass evacuation, there are few signs of a famine. But the challenge of delivering enough food to a population that is barely living on the national minimum is all too clear. Amid rumours that the El Niño effect may be just around the corner, the cold storage in Kaduna is a reminder of the longer-term problem. See the distribution below By now, the hospital’s cold storage was already virtually empty. Patients needing preventative medicine for infectious diseases were not the priority. Instead, officials spent the first days focusing on getting the food to people directly. They spent the rest of the two-week period distributing it, flying 10,000lb (45,540kg) of food to 1,500 people. While the humanitarian response appears to be gaining momentum, the hospital’s refrigerators did not even have enough to store. Too much food was pumped out of them in just one day. Just what is needed? The contribution of the cold storage in Kano was a joint project by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the African Union, which facilitated donors, humanitarian agencies and local farmers to move food from the national capital Abuja to Kano and then on to the north east. Here’s a breakdown of the effort in Nigerian cities There are three major centres of electricity supply in Nigeria. Kano, on the east coast, supplies close to one quarter of the electricity the country needs. The capital Abuja supplies close to the opposite.
Temperatures in Kano are cool enough in winter to reduce the need for outdoor usage of refrigerators, says Clara Anali, of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Nigeria.
“When you cannot refrigerate food, it usually gets lost. This has helped reduce the humanitarian situation in Kano,” she says.
But warming the food outside is still a key part of the package. After arriving at Edhi Collection and Thrift in Abuja, a large team of humanitarian workers from several agencies dispersed into nearby villages, spending the night before beginning distribution.
READ MORE: Fresh food for IDPs – food packaging in Nigeria Today, the total food supply to 2,500 families living in Kano is believed to be more than 16 tonnes. That means children are learning and living in a warmer home.
However, local farming families are still unsure if their harvest will be enough to feed the families.
“There are thousands of farmers affected in my own village,” says Muhammad Umar. “People are hungry and they live in this cold house and they don’t know how to tell people.”
The impact of the crisis in Nigeria has been highlighted by concern about the potential impact of the El Niño phenomenon. The harsh weather phenomenon, caused by water changes in the Pacific Ocean, typically means colder weather in northern Africa and the Middle East, putting particular focus on countries such as Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, as well as southern parts of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Red Cross has sent a team to the north east to look into the impact of the cold on the region.
Facts: Nigeria’s drought The number of people affected by drought in Nigeria has increased to 4.5 million. While the humanitarian response to the drought is underway, the impact of El Niño has already caused some deaths. Those deaths in Nigeria are the highest amount reported in a single country during El Niño.
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