By Peter Ayoade
An International Non-Governmental Organization with the main and objectives of Educating and Empowering the Masses for Sustainable Development in Africa, the Community Education and Empowerment Network for Africa (CEENA), otherwise known as “Community Africa”, has commenced the process of establishing Community Food Castle in each of the 33 Local Government in Oyo State.
Speaking with journalists shortly after delivering lecture at the programme organized by the Talented Daughters of Africa on Food and Job Creation in Ibadan on Wednesday, Dr. E. P. Akpan, the Director General of CEENA said the project is established to address the prevalence of extreme poverty and inequality in African nations.
“CEENA established CBENS with a vision to bring about the change Nigerians are clamouring for. Poverty and hunger eradication SDG 1, is seen as a bedrock for inclusive and to create egalitarian society and sustainable development.
“It’s a community based project, founded to ensure no one goes to bed with empty stomach. Food will be available in the community for those residing within the community. An hungry man is an angry man. Quite a number of people in Nigeria today are hungry, that’s why many of them trooped out to join the recently protest to register their disapproval of starvation experienced in the country,” Dr. Akpan stated.
“Let me also add this, job will be available in the community for widows, youths and farmers through this project. An idle mind is a devil workshop, of course, if all our youths are fully employed and have food available to them as it is the case in developed countries they are rushing to, there would be no one on the street to protest, vandalized and caused loss of lives as witnessed few days ago,” he added.
“There’s an adage in Yoruba, “ti ebi ba kuro ninu ise, ise ti buse/tan”, once hunger issue is taking care of, there would be nothing like poverty again. This simply implies hunger is a sign and symbol of poverty which must be made our collective responsibility and drive it away from our community and society.
“According to UN, COVID-19 pandemic is a health and human crisis, threatening the food security and nutrition of millions of people around the world. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people were already suffering from hunger and malnutrition before the virus hit and, unless immediate action is taken, we could see a global food emergency. In the longer term, the combined effects of COVID-19 itself, as well as corresponding mitigation measures and the emerging global recession could, without large-scale coordinated action, disrupt the functioning of food systems. Such disruption can result in consequences for health and nutrition of a severity and scale unseen for more than half a century.
“Yet the vast majority of the world’s population takes its food from local markets, and food security and nutrition remain highly susceptible to disruption. High levels of unemployment, loss of income, and rising food costs are also making access to food difficult for many. Prices of basic foods have begun to rise in some countries, especially Nigeria at a time when people have less money in their pockets. Prior to the onset of this pandemic, more than 820 million people did have access to food. The latest data shows that the food security of 135 millions people was categorised as crisis.
“Many bottlenecks to food supply cannot be addressed by social protection alone. Government procurement and public distribution can be expedient to preserve food system functioning and avoid food price inflation. Social protection should include smallholder farmers and their families whose numbers include more than two billions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and food workers in all sectors.
“Food systems contribute up to nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions and have contributed to substantial biodiversity loss. There is an urgent need to rethink rapidly how we produce, process, market, consume our food and dispose of waste. This crisis can serve as a turning point to rebalance and transform our food systems, making them more inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
“We must all rise to tackle this now, we implore all Local Government councils, state governments, Federal Government, corporate organizations, political office holders, politicians and other personalities in the communities to rally support for CBENS project. It could be adopted as constituency project, community based/corporate responsibility project and a service to humanity.
Meanwhile the Director of Information and Strategic Planning of CEENA, Mr. Adebowale A. Adeoye has assured members of public that adequate information about the project will be made available to all Local Government councils through the information officers in various councils. He added that CEENA Community Markets to be located at every community and will also provide information about jobs and others.