According to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a government-led and UN-supported food and nutrition study, approximately 25 million Nigerians are at risk of encountering starvation between June and August 2023 (lean season), provided swift action is not implemented. From the existing 17 million at risk of food insecurity, this represents a predicted rise. Violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) and armed banditry and abduction in areas like Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger have all impacted food availability.
The primary causes of this troubling trend have been identified as constant violence, climate change, inflation, and increasing food costs. The National Emergency Management Agency reports that severe flooding during the 2022 rainy season damaged over 676,000 hectares of farmlands, reducing harvests and raising the danger of food poverty for communities throughout the nation. As a result of climate change and unpredictability, Nigeria sees an increase in flooding, and more severe weather patterns that threaten food security are expected in the future.
6 million of Nigeria’s 17 million food-insecure people are children.
Northeast BAY states are home to 3 million of the 17 million people who are now food insecure. In the absence of prompt action, this amount is anticipated to rise to 4.4 million during the dry seasons. 8.3 million people need aid due to a wide-ranging humanitarian catastrophe; this number includes displaced individuals and those who have returned home but are still struggling to make ends meet. Mr. Matthias Schmale, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria has spoken out about the issue, saying that the food security and nutrition situation in Nigeria is very concerning.
Schmale said that many children in nutrition stabilization centres are “barely keeping their heads above water” and that urgent efforts must be made to guarantee these children get the vital assistance they need. It has been shown that children are more susceptible to food insecurity. Approximately 6 million of Nigeria’s 17 million food-insecure people are children under the age of five, residing in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Zamfara states. Acute malnutrition poses a significant threat to children’s lives.
UNICEF, partners provided nutrition aid to over 650,000 children.
The number of children in the BAY states with acute malnutrition is expected to surge from the current 1.74 million in 2022 and 2023. However, UNICEF is working with the government to increase funding for preventive nutrition programs. They are doing so in tandem with the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), a nonprofit that provides medical aid to people in need in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a global organization that provides aid to people in need throughout the world.
At the same time, efforts have been made to guarantee that children in need have access to nutritional programs that might save their lives. Meanwhile, in 2022, UNICEF and its partners provided essential nutrition aid to over 650,000 children in the aforementioned six states. In the northwest, particularly in the states of Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto, food poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. A staggering 2.9% of the world’s population is facing severe food insecurity (Cadre Harmonisé Phase 3 or worse). Without immediate intervention, this number is expected to rise to 4.3 million during the famine.
U.N. urged Nigerian government for effective measures against the situation.
Similarly, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been assisting the government in rebuilding livelihoods in the northeast and northwest areas in collaboration with partners. Agriculture, fisheries, value chain development, and homestead micro-gardening are part of this category. U.N. officials have also urged the government of Nigeria, the donor community, public and private partners to act quickly to save lives and avert a catastrophic food security and nutrition scenario. At this time, help of any kind is desperately needed by vulnerable families all around the nation.