The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has lamented that a total of 24.8 million people, or 1 out of 8 individuals, are experiencing acute hunger this year in the country.
The UN agency while disclosing that this situation is prone in 26 states of the country and the capital, Abuja, said it 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 in the Northeast.
A statement on Saturday by the organisation read: “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 statement added that 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, with almost600,000 are on the brink of catastrophe, insisting that 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.
WFP lamented that ongoing conflict has affected the nutrition status of children on several fronts, with 2 million children in the region projected to suffer from acute malnutrition and cases of severe acute malnutrition among children have quadrupled to 700,000.
The UN agency said: “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.
WFP said: “The more people in need of urgent food aassistance 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.”
It added that: “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, conflict has left households unable to leave their homes due to an increase in movement restrictions, killings and abduction of civilians, particularly in Borno where the violence is concentrated.”
It insisted that: “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. 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.”
WFP however disclosed that it requires US$190 million over the next six months to provide lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable people, while raising the alarm that: “If urgent action is not taken, funding gaps mean that approximately four million people in the northeast will go without food assistance during the peak of the lean season.”