By Philip Hayab JOHN, PhD
As the hunger situation looms in many parts of the world due to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, which intensified at the beginning of the farming season in the north of Nigeria, Dr Chetachi Ecton, a distinguished humanitarian donor and president of the When In Need (WIN) Foundation launches a program to combat the looming hunger that may befall the world by providing seedlings to the people of Ham in Kaduna State, Nigeria, aimed at supporting farmers to produce more food than the previous years.
Before now, the Ham people in 2019, given the level of the humanitarian work of Dr Chetachi Ecton, through the When In Need Foundation in the area, bestowed her the title of ‘Tir Ham’ (daughter of the Ham), which makes her a member of the agrarian Ham community. By implication, Dr Ecton (Tir Ham) becomes a part and heir of the Ham, the society where the magnificent Nok culture figurines were first excavated in 1928.
As part of WIN’s sustainable food security program, especially that COVID 19 pandemic ravages the world, the seeds distributed were of Rice, maize, soya beans, white beans, and okra, primarily stable foods. The expectations are that the seedlings will produce edible foods to feed the Ham community, estimated to be nearly a million population, and beyond.
Speaking on why The When In Need Foundation took the step to provide seedlings to the Ham community and to other areas in Nigeria at this precarious time, Dr Ecton asserted that while WIN appreciates the large scale awareness that the developed world provides to stem the spread of the virus, much attention should be focused on the millions that die due to hunger every day in Africa and elsewhere.
According to Dr Ecton, “while the entire world is paying attention to COVID-19, I am strongly appealing to the government of Nigeria, and governments from the developed world and the international community at large to pay attention to hunger as a pandemic that has never been declared as a global state of emergency but from which millions die from.”
For the sustainability of the project, she asserts that “the Foundation partners in the USA are ready to deliver more agricultural inputs and feed more people through the WIN sustainable food security undertaking. Whereas the food security initiative aims to transform the lives of the vulnerable, The When In Need Foundation appeals to individuals at all levels of governments across Nigeria to be inclined to support the tenacious efforts WIN is making.”
A close assessment of the work The When In Need Foundation does towards uplifting the quality of lives of people around the world, especially in Nigeria, Dr Ecton, Tir Ham, says that it has not been an easy path, particularly that it was difficult to acquire the range of farm inputs to feed four million Nigerians. Despite that four million is merely a little percentage of the overall population of Nigeria, WIN would work in partnership with other NGOs, the international communities and the Nigerian government to double the food input assistance per capita aimed at reaching the rest of the country.
The launch of the seedlings took place on 27th June 2020 at the palace of the Kpop Ham, which had in attendance the traditional council, officials of Ham Community Development Association, district heads, village heads, community leaders, farmers, illustrious sons and daughters, and the general public. Even though the launch of the seeds could have been held earlier but for the restriction of movement imposed to curb the spread of the COVID 19 virus.
Commenting on the gesture by WIN, the consensus is that the donation of seedlings in the Ham culture is a demonstration of congenial neighbourliness and a firm belief in the future. Accordingly, the Ham community is thankful to The When In Need Foundation for such a foresight, believing that when the seeds are properly utilised, the Ham area will expect a tremendous harvest in 2020 onward.