Twenty-eight million nine hundred thousand people living in Nigeria and other West and Central African countries depend on emergency food assistance for survival, according to the World Bank.
This is despite an above-average yield in the 2022/23 agricultural season. The global bank explained that countries in these regions continue to face high levels of food insecurity because of persistent insecurity and macroeconomic challenges.
The Washington-based bank said, “Currently, 28.9 million people depend on emergency food assistance. Unless appropriate countermeasures are taken, 41.9 million people could be food insecure between June and August 2023(RPCA 2022).
“With cereal production at 6 percent above the 5-year average and root and tuber production at 9 per cent above the 5-year average, the 2022/23 agropastoral season was satisfactory, although access to food for the most vulnerable populations continues to deteriorate.
“Food prices are 36 percent above the 5-year average. Inflation averages 18 percent in an unfavorable environment shaped by the war in Ukraine and the devaluation of some local currencies. Conflict and instability continue to drive food insecurity, especially for internally displaced persons, of whom there are currently more than 6.1 million.”
The bank added that continued violence in these regions is depriving people of their productive assets, and affecting the resilience of thousands of communities that are agropastoral in nature.
According to the global bank, the global support provided to agriculture and food exceeds $700bn per year, but only 35 cents of each dollar and support trickle to farmers.
Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund disclosed that about 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August 2023. It stated that this is a projected increase from the estimated 17 million people currently at risk of food insecurity.
It said, “Continued conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices are key drivers of this alarming trend. Food access has been affected by persistent violence in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger.
“According to the National Emergency Management Agency, widespread flooding in the 2022 rainy season damaged more than 676,000 hectares of farmlands, which diminished harvests and increased the risk of food insecurity for families across the country. The flooding is one of the effects of climate change and variability impacting Nigeria. More extreme weather patterns affecting food security are anticipated in the future.”
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, added, “The food security and nutrition situation across Nigeria is deeply concerning.
“I have visited nutrition stabilisation centres filled with children who are fighting to stay alive. We must act now to ensure they and others get the lifesaving support they need.”