Zuwaira Aliyu, an elderly woman who lives with her adult grandchildren in Unguwar Shanu district, said she didn’t receive any food packages even when she heard the committee was distributing aid nearby.
“Look at me,” she said, sitting in front of a small shop where she sells pottery, “an old woman like me, sitting here without a job and doing nothing. Am I not supposed to get something from this government?
“I saw them passing with the food items but none came here to give me anything. I was told they will bring some for me, but nothing came to my door. It is only Allah (God) that helped us to survive.”
Another Unguwar Shanu resident, Saidu Abdullahi, a 74-year-old father of three who lost one of his hands to an accident two decades ago, believed that given his disability, he should have received the food package.
“Honestly, I didn’t get anything,” Abdullahi said. “They were sharing food but I didn’t know who to talk to to include my name. Everything was done in hiding, only a few people received the food packages. You need to know somebody to receive the food.”
Abdullahi’s family survived the lockdowns by begging neighbors for help. “I just go to any home and cry for help and they will take pity on me and help in any way they can,” he said. “Generally, people were afraid of hunger, not the coronavirus, honestly.”
At times, his family went to bed hungry during the lockdown. “It happened,” he said, “not once, not twice, but you don’t tell anybody because it was a tough period.”
Castel-Branco, at the Southern Center for Inequality Studies, stressed that governments need to see social safety nets as a cluster of social and economic policies, especially during crises.
“Cash transfers are a way not only of reducing poverty and inequality, particularly in these moments of crisis, [but]of injecting money into the economy, and increasing aggregate demand,” she said. “That that has to be part of the vision of the state.”