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Food Insecurity: 25m people to face acute hunger in Nigeria – WFP

By Tom Chiahemen (ABUJA) –

The World Food Programme (WFP), has warned that as food insecurity continues to spike in Nigeria, over 25 million people are projected to face acute hunger at the peak of the June-August 2023 lean season.

WFP Representative and Country Director to Nigeria, David Stevenson, who raised the alarm on Wednesday, noted that in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states alone, some 4.4 million people are projected to face acute hunger at the peak of the lean season this year.

Speaking at a joint Media Briefing with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development at the United Nations House in Abuja, Stevenson said some 2 million children were projected to be acutely malnourished in the northeast states alone.

WFP Country Director , David Stevenson (r)n with the Perm Sec, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo at the joint media briefing in Abuja

He lamented that Nigeria’s most vulnerable people continued to suffer critical levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, driven by persistent conflict, organized violence, recurrent climate shocks and broad exposure to the impact of climate change. 

”One in three households in Nigeria cannot afford nutritious food and more than 100 million people report at least moderate food insecurity. The severity and scale of regionalized crises have been compounded by the global food supply crisis, which has hampered Nigeria’s economic recovery from the 2019 coronavirus pandemic,” Stevenson said.

While regretting that humanitarian aid had not kept pace with this sharp rise in hunger levels, he noted that overall, “WFP is assisting some 2.1 million vulnerable people in Nigeria in 2023 – through food assistance and nutrition support, cash payments and livelihoods projects to help build back the resilience of the people affected by conflict.”

He highlighted WFP’s contributions to other durable solutions, including support to small holder farmers; financial services; supply chain, support to the transport industry; social protection; post-harvest management and food security analyses.

“All the initiatives outlined above are very much in line with WFP’s mandate of Zero Hunger – within the framework of the new CSP,” he emphasised.

Hecommended the Fund’s Government partners, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, for the effective collaboration and support we have received from them. Indeed, WFP’s collaboration with the Ministry has yielded a lot of dividends.

According to Stevenson, WFP supported the Ministry to develop two critical policies: the National Cash and Voucher Assistance Policy (NCVAP), to assist the people in need; and the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme (NHGSF). Both policies were endorsed last month by the Federal Executive Council – to the credit of the mutual cooperation between WFP and the FMHADMSD.

According to the WFP Country Director, “4.3 million people require food assistance during the lean season (June – August). of which 522,367 will be in the ‘emergency phase’ (Phase 4). Recurrent climate shocks with widespread crop loss from flooding, unprecedented food inflation and conflict have contributed to the deterioration of the situation. A quadrupling of severe acute malnutrition to 700,000 and 600,000 in Phase 4 emergency conditions. The remaining number are in Phase 3, crisis situation.

He disclosed that to respond to the needs, WFP would increase the number of people assisted with lifesaving food assistance from one million now in February to 2.1 million during the peak of the lean season before scaling down during the harvest period. The rest of the food security actors plan to assist 700 thousand people. This will leave a gap of 1.5 million people not assisted.  

“WFP will use in-kind food, electronic voucher or cash to provide the assistance. The transfer modality selection will be informed by multisectoral assessment which will consider market functionality, protection risks, government regulations, availability of financial infrastructures, beneficiaries’ preference and how the modality contributes to resilience supporting food systems or connecting farmers to markets,” he said.

Stevenson, who announced that the WFP’s total funding requirement for 2023 was USD 473 million of which USD 400 million is to provide lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to the most vulnerable people in Northeast Nigeria, said WFP urgently requires USD 255.5 million to meet assistance needs for the next six months (March to August 2023).”

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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