The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), at the weekend, said it is scaling up its emergency food provision services to meet the nutritional needs of 2.1 million people in the North East region of Nigeria who are affected by the insurgency.
This was disclosed in a statement by the organization, where it expressed grave concern over the critical situation of food availability on the heels of low agricultural activities to boost food supply and accessibility in the region.
The statement reads:
“The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up to provide emergency food and nutrition assistance to 2.1 million people affected by conflict and in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
“WFP is gravely concerned that years of armed conflict in northeast Nigeria is driving hunger and malnutrition, with millions in need of life-saving assistance and facing the risk of famine.
“The March Cadre Harmonisé projects that 4.3 million people in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states face severe hunger during the peak of the lean season between June and August 2023.
“Almost 600,000 are on the brink of catastrophe. These people will face emergency levels of food insecurity, with extremely high rates of acute malnutrition and mortality in the absence of a sustained scale-up of humanitarian assistance.
“Ongoing conflict has affected the nutrition status of children on several fronts: 2 million children in the region are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition and cases of severe acute malnutrition among children have quadrupled to 700,000.
“With more than 4.3 million people also in need of food assistance in northwest Nigeria, resources for the northeast have been increasingly squeezed.
“A total of 24.8 million people, or 1 out of 8 individuals, are experiencing acute hunger this year in Nigeria’s 26 states and the capital, Abuja.”
The WFP also warned that “The more people in need of urgent food assistance who go unassisted, the greater the risk of starvation and death among the most vulnerable, and the more people will be forced to resort to coping mechanisms such as survival sex, selling possessions and child labour.
“A lack of assistance also increases the risk of youth recruitment into armed groups, as well as displaced populations returning to inaccessible areas where they are beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance and other social services.
“Chronic insecurity is preventing many people in the north-east from growing the food they need or earning an income.
“In the last year, the conflict has left households unable to leave their homes due to increased movement restrictions, killings, and abduction of civilians, particularly in Borno where the violence is concentrated.
“Thousands of people are left with only one month’s food supply as households in conflict-affected areas rely on minimal income to purchase food.”
It also added, “The hunger crisis worsens an already bad situation for many families struggling with economic hardship, surging inflation, impacts of Russia – Ukraine war, the currency redesign policy, slow post-COVID-19 recovery and unprecedented floods in 2022 which limited agricultural production and overall food availability.”
However, the Programme demanded $190 million for the next six months to ensure unhindered food provision to save millions of lives along with nutrition assistance to vulnerable people.
“WFP requires US$190 million over the next six months to provide lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable.
“If urgent action is not taken, funding gaps mean that approximately 4 million people in the northeast will go without food assistance during the peak of the lean season”, it added.