Nigeria develops Standard Operating Procedures for receiving relief consignments in the framework of the Customs for Relief of Epidemic Diseases (C-RED) Project

20 September 2017

A team of experts from the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) conducted the second national support mission to Nigeria under the C-RED Project. The mission was held in Abuja in the period 11-14 September 2017.

The overall goal of the C-RED project, which is funded by the Government of the Netherlands, is to assist Customs administrations in West Africa to be better prepared to contain the effects of regional epidemics and natural disasters.

The objective of the mission was threefold – to follow-up on the recommendations from the scoping mission that was held in Nigeria under the C-RED project in the end of June 2017; to draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for receiving international emergency relief consignments and equipment imported for humanitarian purposes; and to strengthen the cooperation among all stakeholders that play a role in the importation of relief goods.

During the mission, the WCO and UN-OCHA experts moderated a 3-day workshop aimed at achieving the above objectives. The workshop was opened by the Assistant Comptroller General for Strategic Research and Policy, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and benefitted from the active participation of Customs staff from a broad range of Customs formations, representatives of a number of government agencies as well as humanitarian actors. Among the government agencies represented at the workshop were the Federal Ministry of Finance, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). The perspective of the humanitarian actors was introduced by participants from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children International, the International Rescue Committee and the International Medical Corps.

During the first workshop day, the participants discussed the recommendations endorsed during the scoping mission to Nigeria held in June 2017. A Plan of Action was drafted as a result of the discussion, and responsible entity and deadline were agreed for each recommendation. Throughout the workshop additional recommended actions were added to the Plan.

Following a template provided and thoroughly explicated by the mission team, the workshop participants worked in break-out groups on the various sections of the SOPs for receiving international emergency relief consignments and equipment imported for humanitarian purposes. Upon completion of the sections assigned to the groups, rapporteurs from each group presented in plenary the outputs of the break-out sessions and the texts were compiled to form a mature draft of the SOPs. It is now the responsibility of Nigeria Customs Service to coordinate the finalization and the adoption of the SOPs, whereas deadlines were set in the draft Plan of Action for each step of the process.

The workshop was seen as a valuable opportunity for enhancing the cooperation between the government agencies and the humanitarian actors who attended the meetings.

In the framework of the mission, the experts from WCO and UN-OCHA had meetings with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the NCS Information and Communication Technologies Unit with the objective of exploring further steps for enhancing the effectiveness of the Customs clearance process for relief consignments both at national and regional level.

During the closing ceremony, the Assistant Comptroller General for Strategic Research and Policy, NCS expressed her gratitude to the mission team for the support provided.

More information about the C-RED project