The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said at the weekend that it was committing $7 billion to Nigeria and other African countries over the next four years, just as the head of the organisation, Bill Gates has warned that the Ukraine crisis was reducing the amount of aid flowing to the continent.
The foundation’s pledge, which is up 40 per cent on the amount spent during the previous four years, will target projects tackling hunger, disease, poverty and gender inequality.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will take the biggest share, the international organisation stated.
Humanitarian groups in Africa are grappling with the diversion of funding away towards Ukraine, and as Russia’s invasion increases goods prices globally, impacting aid operations, a Reuters report said.
“The European budgets are deeply affected by the Ukraine war and so right now the trend for aid is not to go up,” the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corporation told journalists at the University of Nairobi during a visit to Kenya.
“If you take all aid (into Africa) including all climate aid – we’ll have a few years where it’ll probably go down,” he added.
Drought, compounded by conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed more than 10 million people in the region “to the very brink of a hunger crisis”, the US-based Christian relief group World Vision said this week.
The United Nations says it expects famine to be declared in parts of Somalia this year. Following a meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto, Gates said that the Foundation would establish a regional office in Nairobi.
“Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture, and other critical areas—and the systems to get them out of the labs and to the people who need them,” Gates, who runs the foundation with his ex-wife Melinda French Gates, said in a statement.
The Foundation in 2021 gave charitable support of $6.7 billion and last week pledged $1.4 billion to help the world’s smallholder farmers cope with climate change.
Nigeria has made significant progress in reaching its health goals, including recently eradicating wild polio from the country, Gates said, adding that the foundation works with the Nigerian government and other partners to help address a range of health issues, including family planning, nutrition, and strengthening primary health care and public health systems.
“We support efforts to help smallholder farmers in Nigeria increase their yields and reduce food insecurity in the country.
“We also support the government’s efforts to ensure that women, smallholder farmers, and other marginalized populations have access to digital financial services.
“We want all of Nigeria’s children, mothers, and families to be able to lead healthy and productive lives, and we want the country’s most marginalised people to have opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty. To work toward these goals, we partner with the government, the private sector, and civil society organisations,” the foundation stated.