Alleviating COVID-19 Depression

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The adverse effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic might not leave the country soon, not with the recent recession that has exposed the risky levels of food insecurity.

Owing to this, Beiersdorf Nigeria, makers of the Nivea skin and personal care products through its global Corporate Social Responsibility program dubbed ‘Care Beyond Skin’ recently stepped in, addressing the food needs of over 350,000 vulnerable Nigerians for a start. Ugo Aliogo reports.

Communities globally are facing a crisis like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an unprecedented increase in demand for food, thus pushing the situation towards a global hunger crisis.

Nigeria is one of the many food-deficient countries in Africa, and its alarming hunger statistics appear to have been exacerbated with the advent of COVID-19 that has caused a global economic disruption which has caused job losses and grew the economic hardship among the limited working populace.

According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI), Nigeria ranks 98th out of the 107 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2020 GHI scores, and with a score of 29.2, Nigeria has a level of hunger that is serious.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its recent report said the country has emerged as one of the countries to be most hit by a food crisis across the globe in the face of the COVID-19, which had worsened the already bad situation in the country.

Women and children in underserved communities have been at the receiving end of this deplorable situation so much that one-third of children under five in the country are stunted, which is a common symptom of undernourishment.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), there has been an increase in malnutrition rates among children in nutrition centers it supports in Nigeria. It said the number of children treated by the outpatient nutrition program grew by 20 percent, while the number of severe malnutrition cases rose by 10 percent, compared to the same period last year.

Beiersdorf to the rescue

For Beiersdorf Nigeria, manufacturer of Nivea range of products in Nigeria, creating a better life for Nigerians to cushion against the effects of the coronavirus pandemic is a mission that must come to reality.

It realised that providing succour to residents in underserved communities through various feeding initiatives will go a long way to ensure security in the country as hunger is the core of all poverty and diseased induced short life span of the populace.

This was why it recently signed off N115 million to the Lagos Food Bank Initiative (LFBI) as part of efforts to address some of the fallouts of the coronavirus crisis, including rising food insecurity and loss of income sources.

Food banking, it should be reiterated, works by collecting surplus food from various entities such as farms, grocery retailers, food manufacturers, and distributors, restaurants, and hospitality organizations as well as government and consumers. The food is collected at foodbanks and is thereafter distributed to community service organizations who deliver onwards to hungry people.

The 12-month partnership signed by the parties will impact over 350,000 beneficiaries which include 4,000 schoolchildren in 20 schools per month, vulnerable, expectant mothers, infants, as well as children who are malnourished and living in underserved communities in Lagos state.

The donation, to be released in tranches over the next 8 months, is part of a regional partnership with the Global Food Banking Network (GFN) and local Nigerian affiliate – Lagos Food Bank Initiative (LFBI) and is carried out under Beiersdorf‘s “Care Beyond Skin” corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Breaking down the donation into its different areas of impact, Beiersdorf and the LFBI will fund the Education Enhancement Intervention for Food Insecure Students (EduFood), a school feeding program that has started in March 2020 where LFBI provided nutritionally balanced food parcels to 12 primary schools in Lagos and 2,400 school children with their families benefited.

Another aspect of the COVID-19 community intervention program is the 16-month Nutritious Meal Plan Intervention for Vulnerable Mothers and Children (Numeplan) project which focuses on expectant mothers and infants who are malnourished or vulnerable to malnutrition.

There is also the Family Farming Program designed to create a food and agricultural system that is managed and operated by a family and relies on family labour partnership to increase the quality of life and reduce the level of hunger and poverty. This is particularly critical as it is on this program that so many vulnerable and expectant mothers will be impacted. It should be noted that the 2020 Global Food Report on Food Crises stated that women-led households are most likely to suffer from a food crisis when compared to men-led households.

The donation will also build the LFBI capacity through improved service to its existing beneficiary base, increase its service scale exponentially by increasing warehouse capacity and locations, cold chain capacity, fleet, and human resources.
Godwin Harrison, Beiersdorf’s Country Manager, Nigeria said with the disruption the pandemic is causing to the economy, vulnerable members of society are at risk and its decision to focus on solving hunger is global, and funding LFBI is strategic as it believes that a targeted approach to the provision of effective and direct support where help is urgently needed is key.

He said, “Food banks are powerful interventions which change lives and communities. They are an interconnected lifeline to the hungry and equip communities to feed themselves. We at Beiersdorf recognize the importance of strengthening food banks as it fosters resilience and enhances the community’s capability to fight hunger, long term”.

Aside from making more Nigerians food secure, Harrison said that through their ‘Care Beyond Skin’ initiative, Beiersdorf expresses its continued commitment to go beyond its core business of taking care of people’s skin by making a positive impact on the society and the environment.

It is currently focused on making a positive impact to communities in relation to the ongoing pandemic by manufacturing and donating hand sanitizers and disinfectants, as in June, it donated over 7,000 liters of hand sanitizers and disinfectants to the Lagos State Ministry of Health and vulnerable members of the community in order to contribute towards the fight against the pandemic.

Beiersdorf has donated 750,000 Euros across Central, East & West Africa to various food banks and they serve a strategic purpose linked to the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Sunbola, Lagos Food Bank Initiative founder, expressing gratitude, said the donation will enhance its capacity to tackle food insecurity, malnutrition, and grow its poverty resilience level as the country recovers from COVID-19.

LFBI started in 2015, has affected about a million families and as of October, it has raised over N111. 8 million and has sourced N261.6 million worth of food.

Beiersdorf Nigeria is a subsidiary of Beiersdorf AG, a German multinational company that manufactures and retails skin & personal care products globally.