UN Volunteers enhance food security and sustainability for crisis-affected people in Nigeria

16 October 2019
UNV partnering with FAO and WFP
Tiruneh Debena (Ethiopia), an international UN Volunteer with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), arrived in Nigeria in May 2018. For him, this volunteering assignment in Yola, Adamawa state, is an opportunity to use his expertise and professional skills to improve the living conditions of internally displaced people, especially providing sustainable food security and economic growth.
UN Volunteer Tiruneh Debena after validation of the beneficiary targeting and monitoring the distribution of food inputs to conflict-affected communities in Yola, Adamawa State, North-East Nigeria.
UN Volunteer Tiruneh Debena after validation of the beneficiary targeting and monitoring the distribution of food inputs to conflict-affected communities in Yola, Adamawa State, North East Nigeria.
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In North East Nigeria, 7.1 million people are in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance in 2019, due to insurgency and climate crises. Many of them lost all their assets (internally displaced persons), some try to recover from the crises (returnees) and some are struggling to survive with food aid (host communities).

Tiruneh Debena reports that all these people are exposed to hunger, unable to ensure sustainable basic food needs for their families in the last nine years. 

In this emergency context, Tiruneh argues that the speed of reaction is crucial. As an Emergency Livelihood Specialist, he did not wait to go where assistance is most needed, to conduct need assessment and analysis within the affected communities. This helps to plan effectively and efficiently FAO initiatives to address food emergencies for the neediest people like women, and children’s headed households, he reports.

In the field, Tiruneh has been involved in all the food security, resilience and livelihood related projects in Adamawa State, which target to increase the resilience of livelihood to threats and crisis, to build the resilience and food security of IDPs, host communities/returnees and enhance their capacity to cope from threats and crises.

Since May 2018, Tiruneh contributed to four FAO projects, including dry season and rainy season recovery and resilience creation projects, restoring the agricultural livelihood of the conflict-affected people, through agricultural input distribution, technical support, and provision of micro gardening projects. He also played an active role in the restocking and vaccination program and the Seed Fair project for the vulnerable communities in Adamawa state.

I support these people through the provision of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers) and livestock’s (chickens, goats and bulls) to produce and cover their daily food consumption needs and recover from crises in the next season. I witnessed that our beneficiaries are able to produce and cover their basic food needs. --Tiruneh Debena, UN Volunteer Emergency Livelihood Specialist

In total, Tiruneh’s contributions to rainy/dry season, micro-gardening, livestock and seed fair programs in Adamawa State have reached 39,120 households, through the creation of strong livelihood for the most vulnerable. 

What I am most proud about my work with FAO is to ensure that resources have been applied on the neediest people, especially women, children’s and elderly headed households. This gives me a lot of moral satisfaction. --Tiruneh Debena

The crisis in North East Nigeria is among the most severe humanitarian crises in the world today. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of 2019, 1.8 million Nigerians have fled from their homes and are internally displaced. 80 percent of them are women and children.   

Since January 2019, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has deployed nine UN Volunteers with FAO and 89 UN Volunteers with World Food Programme (WFP) to contribute to ending hunger (SDG 2) in West and Central Africa, through improving food access for vulnerable communities.

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