19.5m Nigerians facing acute food insecurity

A recent report released by the United Nations (U.N.) indicates that 19.5m Nigerians are facing acute food insecurity. An analysis of the situation carried out by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme says that food insecurity in parts of Nigeria has reached “catastrophic” levels. Nigeria finds itself in company of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Yemen, which the report indicates have the ‘highest alert’ on food insecurity.

Moreover, another 1.2 million Nigerians are in an emergency, and in need of humanitarian interventions. If their conditions were to improve, the reports state the humanitarian activities then must be ‘scaled up and sustained’.

“The situation remains worrisome, as over 1.7 million children under five years of age are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition through to August 2022 – a 34 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2021,” the report states.

The grim reality reflects upon the lingering insurgency in northern Nigeria, where the situation is acutest. As pointed out, access to food, among other humanitarian services, to the vulnerable in the conflict-affected areas is a challenge and it is likely to persist.

The situation, the UN says, is compounded by high prices of fuel and inputs, and of the high likelihood of poor rains in the southern and middle belt regions of Nigeria.

“Continuing currency weakness, above-average inflation and a growing fiscal deficit in 2022, amid increasing costs of imported foods, including wheat, are likely to add pressure to prices in the outlook period,” the report stated.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) urged the government to distribute home-gardening inputs to IDPs and host populations to allow for the diversification of diets.

Among other things, the FAO & WFP also recommended that the government support agricultural-based livelihoods activities for the upcoming cassava, rice, maise and millet planting season starting in May/June, targeting vulnerable households with access to land for cultivation.