It is no news that the turn of the year and the new administration has caused a number of economic and survival issues in the country. One of them is the increase in food insecurity caused by heightened insecurity and hyperinflation due to the rising cost of production. The recent removal of subsidy also contributed into the rising cost of staple foods in the market across Nigeria. The result is that the poor get poorer and the purchasing power of naira reduces drastically. The multidimensionally poor will also find it difficult to buy food.
In April 2023, the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP) revealed that about one in eight Nigerians were facing acute hunger. This is estimated to be about 25 million people. In addition, the World Bank reported that at least 64 million Nigerians are at risk of emergency food and nutritional assistance because of the effects of hyperinflation, insecurity as well as climate change. It has also been reported that global hunger levels are rising and more than 200 million people went to bed hungry in 2022.
Efforts of UN is towards combating the global food problem.
To this end, the United Nations has allocated $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF) to urgently intensify the humanitarian response to the worsening food security and nutrition crisis in North East Nigeria. A total of $9 million will come from CERF funding while the complementary $11 million will be from NHF allocation. These funds will go towards a coordinated multi-sectoral response aimed at preventing a deterioration to famine or famine-like conditions.
Specifically, the organization stated that almost 700,000 children under five are likely to suffer from life-threatening Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states in 2023. Compared to the previous years, the numbers are more than double the number of SAM cases in 2022 and four times the number of cases in 2021. In these states, more than half a million people are also projected to face emergency levels of food insecurity. According to the March 2023 Cadre Harmonise analysis, these people are one step away from famine, especially since the peak of the lean season (June to August) is near.
The organization explains the ratio of allocations to different fronts.
This is also the season that coincides with the rainy season, a time when cases of acute watery diarrhea, cholera, malaria and other diseases increase. It worsens the situation of these malnourished children. Mr. Matthias Schmale, the humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, warned that unless there is a rapid and significant scale up of humanitarian assistance, there will be extremely high rates of acute malnutrition and deaths. “Government, donors and the international community must make urgent funding available to protect the lives and future of vulnerable children in North-East Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the CERF allocation will go to the World Food Programme for food security interventions (including food and voucher assistance) for 95,000 extremely food-insecure people in three garrison towns of Borno State. The UN Children’s Fund will get $2 million for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition. This includes providing ready-to-eat therapeutic food and Tom Brown solutions, a nutrient-rich locally produced supplementary food. Then, $1 million will go to the Food and Agriculture Organization for seeds, tools and other agricultural livelihood support to boost local production of nutritious foods to build resilience.
Other allocations of the NHF funds to other important issues.
On the other hand, $11 million of the NHF funding will be channeled towards improving access to clean water and sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. This will include reactivating, sustaining and scaling up the bed capacity at stabilization centres and scaling up outpatient therapeutic feeding programs. The remaining funds will be used for healthcare (such as the integrated management of childhood illnesses and complicated SAM cases) and for protection services with a focus on gender-based violence, child protection and mine action. The NHF aims to allocate 50 percent of funding to eligible national partners on the frontlines.