As the annual World Humanitarian Day is marked today, it is time to ponder and take stock of how far Nigeria and the rest of the world have come in expressing the milk of human kindness to deprived millions across the globe.
The World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
In the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, "Every year on World Humanitarian Day, we shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict."
More than half of the UN global 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which seek to transform our world, touch on the humanitarian process.
Goal 1 seeks an end to poverty; Goal 2 canvasses for zero hunger; Goal 3 deals with global health and well-being; Goal 4 focuses on quality education; Goal 5 on gender equality; and Goal 6 advocates clean water and sanitation; thus the end target is to make life better for the world's disadvantaged groups across continents.
Likewise, Goal 8 deals with decent work and economic growth; Goal 10 seeks reduced inequality; Goal 11 focuses on sustainable cities and communities, while Goal 13 seeks action to combat climate change issues.
The question then arises, if so many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to help mitigate humanitarian disasters, why are there still so many crises around the world, and who are the stakeholders and trendsetters in addressing the arising challenges?
This brings to mind the various interventions by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), founded by Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, to provide succour, health and empowerment to millions of displaced persons in the North-east region in particular and other needy citizens around Nigeria and the world in general.
During a launch of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, in Abuja in February this year, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon disclosed that 10.2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in various parts of the country, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States.
In a breakdown, Kallon said 1.7 million were internally displaced persons; 1.3 million returnees from outside the country and 7.2 million others in various groups.
He, however, added that UN's primary concern was the 7.7 million people, who were in need of such support in the North-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Of the above-mentioned number, Kallon said 6.8 million are being targeted for humanitarian assistance in the 2018 HRP by 60 organisations, including UN agencies and international and national NGOs.
He said a total of $1 billion would be required for such target.
He said the aim of the plan in 2018 is to build on the humanitarian work carried out in previous years.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the 2018 HRP is underpinned by a multi-year strategy representing a paradigm shift and a commitment by the international humanitarian community to align with the Government's Economic and Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), the Buhari Plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework (2018-2022).
It has been described by the UN as a step towards strengthening the nexus between humanitarian, development and peace interventions, in line with the New Way of Working and commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.
Kallon also noted that provision of life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable remains an immediate priority, while humanitarian partners will require $1.05 billion to reach 6.1 million people with humanitarian assistance.
The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), the private philanthropic foundation of Aliko Dangote, has over the past 24 years helped to feed the hungry poor, provide adequate shelter for the homeless and displaced, empower widows and women, and also ensure better health and nutrition for millions, both old and young.
The primary focus of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, led by Ms. Zouera Youssoufou, is centred on health, child nutrition, education and empowerment, and disaster relief.
In another remarkable trait of Dangote, the business mogul has willingly chosen to help the needy by giving billions of dollars and naira back to the society in various initiatives carried out by the Foundation.
The Foundation recently unveiled 200 housing units of the Dangote Village Housing Estate for the IDPs in Maiduguri, Borno State in continuation of its efforts to resettle the IDPs in the North-east, with award letters issued to select beneficiaries, mostly widows with dependents.
Meanwhile, for the past seven years, the Foundation has spent over N7 billion in feeding, clothing and the general welfare of the IDPs in the Northeast.
Other interventions include providing relief fund for flooding disaster victims in Lagos State (N100 million in 2011), Oyo State (N60 million in 2011); and N2.5 billion in 2012 to support the IDPs affected by the national flood disaster that affected 22 states across the federation.
*Akosile, a development journalist writes from Lagos