Plenty Harvest Few Labourers: A case study of Cacovid

CaCovid brought succour to Nigerians during the coronavirus lockdown in Nigeria and our immense appreciation goes to them. They were proactive in setting up isolation centers and made sure the health and wellbeing of Nigerians were a priority. The set up of these isolation centers were publicized to a large extent and no doubt, they made a huge impact within the Nigerian health sector.

On the contrary, the food palliative which was to cushion the effect of hunger during the lockdown did not get as much traction. Hunger is a disease, if you have food, share it, and be a cure to someone’s hunger today. Just this month, World Food Programme (WFP) won the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2020 for its efforts to combat hunger as well as preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict. This quote from the World Food Programme (WFP) encapsulates the need to combat hunger in the world, “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos.” However, the chaos caused by the discoveries of various palliative storehouses across states in Nigeria is a reflection that food is indeed a solution (vaccine) against chaos.

Nigeria has had a food supply problem prior to the lockdown and as the World Food Programme also has it documented that “the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world,” including Nigeria where the pandemic has aggravated hunger with the combination of violent conflict resulting to an increase in the number of people living on the brink of starvation. Hence, the intervention of CaCovid during the coronavirus lockdown in Nigeria was a welcoming gesture.

CaCovid had good intentions but was marred by a case of insufficient manpower? It’s no cliche that Nigeria is so drawn to processes but when it comes to emergency and crisis management, service to humanity should be made a priority as it was made evident with the setting up of isolation centers, as well as providing the needed resources within a short timeline.

CaCovid could have applied the same strategy with the palliative distribution, make a call for volunteers or use specific civil societies organizations to kill two birds with one stone. This is not to discredit the use of state government to distribute palliatives but one thing is clear, the bureaucratic processes within the Nigerian government are cumbersome especially with a pandemic, they were inundated with other activities and outsourcing distribution of palliatives would have absolved CaCovid of this present explanations as well as ease the state government of its teeming challenges if distribution responsibilities were channeled through civil society organizations under the supervision of state governments.

The intention of CaCovid to have accurate data is also pertinent to ensure the tracking of palliative distribution and the state governments could have been absolved of this duty if it was outsourced to an independent data tracking organization thereby serving the emergency purpose the palliatives was initially set out for.

Both health and palliative distribution would have been done simultaneously as the harvest was ready but labourers/ volunteers were insufficient to form the necessary synergy to achieve the common goal of combating hunger during the pandemic.

Processes are not set in stones, especially during a crisis; things can be tweaked to save human lives. A coordinated state distribution is also achievable for the purpose of equity within a multicultural country such as Nigeria.

There are plenty labourers for Nigeria’s plenty harvests. This should be a learning curve for our nation so as to avoid turning our goodwill to bad intentions.

©️Oluwadamilola Grillo

Gerontologist
Hold the Age