How volunteers are fighting hunger amid COVID-19 crisis

Originally published on 13th June 2020


In recent months, strict measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus diseases have affected low-income households and those working in the informal economy due to the loss of livelihoods and inability to access markets.

This has left the most vulnerable families with no option than to ‘hope for their next meal’.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 51 percent of Nigerian households have reduced their food consumption to cope with the shocks of the pandemic.

Petty thefts and robberies have reportedly increased in some communities, where many vulnerable youths struggle for survival in the fight against hunger amidst COVID-19.  

Building Nations Initiative (BNI), a youth-led youth work organisation partnered with six other youth-led organisations to implement the Food Aid in COVID-19 Emergency (F.A.C.E Project).

FACE is a digital technology-driven crowdfunding and decentralized logistics and supply chain model that ensures last-mile distribution of essential food aid and sanitation kits to most vulnerable families in Ibadan.


FACE volunteers distributing food kits

This is done through the voluntary engagement of F.A.C.E Neighbourhood Champions who identify and assess vulnerable families in need and also directly deliver the FACE Food Kit to their doorstep in a conscious approach that ensures safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

For effective implementation of the project, BNI and FACE partners engaged 48 volunteers working in the following teams: neighbourhood champions, neighbourhood coordinators, procurement and transport, needs assessment and data management, content creation, crowd-funding and resource mobilization, and the logistics and supply chain management team.

The volunteers are young people mostly students of the University of Ibadan, youth corp members, and early career professionals.

To ensure safety while serving their neighbourhoods, volunteers were provided with hand sanitizer, nose mask, toilet paper, liquid soap, and project identification tag.

In this documentary on the project , Oluwatoyin Ajilore, the executive director of ONE Foundation and team lead of the FACE crowdfunding and resource mobilization team, expressed her amazement at the enthusiasm displayed by the volunteers in harnessing their social media for mobilizing support and raising fund for the implementation of the project.

Through crowdfunding exercise, the project was able to raise N843,443 (approximately $2, 180) in less than ten days from 62 donors, mostly young people. 

For the pilot phase (April to May 2020), the project was primarily implemented in five neighbourhoods in Agbowo, Bodija, Orogun, Ajibode, and Abadina, in Ibadan.

Precious Adebola, head of BNI research and development and team lead of the FACE needs assessment team, explained that requests for FACE kits were assessed based on number of dependents in a family, marital status, employment status, and how the COVID pandemic affected their source of livelihood.

A total of 246 families made a request, however, 150 households were selected as beneficiaries based on the assessment.

In addition to this, 67 young people were provided FACE Food Kit for young people and 500 nose masks were provided for roadside traders and front line workers in informal markets.

Children were provided with 100 copies of the storybook ‘Adventure of MUNA’, an illustrated kid’s guide to coronavirus donated to the project.

Financial support worth the cost of a FACE Kit was also provided to ten families outside the target neighbourhoods.

At the end of the pilot phase, the project directly impacted 1,517 people in Ibadan, Oyo state.  

A FACE Family Kit is worth N4500 at retail price, with each kit containing the following, rice, beans, vegetable oil, palm oil, garri, spaghetti, milk, cocoa beverage, tomato paste, semolina and hand sanitisers. 

John Oluwadero, BNI President, expressed his gratitude to all the volunteers, donors, and partner organisations for their support, contribution, and encouragement towards successful implementation of the pilot phase of the project. 

Plans are currently being made for the second phase of the Food Aid in COVID-19 Emergency project, with the hope of reaching 6,500 people in Oyo state with food aid and sanitation kits. 

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