Nigeria, NA Launches $306m Appeal Fund to Tackle Food and Nutrition Crisis in North East

An appeal for $306 million has been launched to tackle the projected food security and nutrition crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states during the lean season from May to September.

The Nigerian Government, national and international partners launched the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja, with the aim of providing food aid, nutrition supplies and services, clean water, healthcare, and protection support to people in dire need during of the period. in the three states that have been deeply affected by the over ten year Boko Haram crisis.

According to a Government-led Cadre Harmonisé analysis released in March this year, an estimated 4.8 million people are facing severe food insecurity, the highest levels in seven years in the BAY states,

The report stated that children, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable.

The appeal launched on Tuesday is expected to provide urgent relief to at least 2.8 million vulnerable to the food insecurity and nutrition crisis in the lean season as a multi-sectoral plan is put in place.

A statement on Tuesday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that this food and nutrition crisis, exacerbated by skyrocketing food prices, is mainly due to ongoing conflict and insecurity in the BAY states, along with climate change. influences. It threatens to become catastrophic without immediate coordinated intervention. Prices of staple foods such as beans and maize have increased by 300 to 400 percent in the past year following the removal of the fuel subsidy and the depreciation of the naira. Inflation is outpacing families’ ability to cope, making essential food items unaffordable.

He added that malnutrition rates are a major concern. Around 700,000 children under the age of five are projected to be severely malnourished over the next six months, including 230,000 who are expected to be severely malnourished and at risk of death if they do not receive timely treatment and nutritional support.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, Zubaida Umar, Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, said: “It is a mobilization of funding and resources to address the food security and nutrition crisis of this small season which is planned in the north-east of the country. a step in the right direction to complement the Federal Government’s efforts to prevent deaths from complications related to malnutrition, negative coping mechanisms and other health related issues.”

Announcing the release of $11 million from the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund to begin the emergency response, Mohamed Malick Fall, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, said “I am confident that we have the ability to address these increased needs to support the Government’s efforts, the resources are what we need now. Joining hands, pooling resources, to save lives and stop suffering”.

On his part, the Acting Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr. Rownak Khan, said: “UNICEF is deeply concerned about the growing food security and nutrition crisis in the BAY states. The alarming rise in acute malnutrition among children highlights the urgent need for immediate action. This year alone, we have seen around 120,000 admissions for treatment of severe acute malnutrition with complications, far exceeding our estimated target of 90,000. We must ensure that lifesaving nutritional commodities reach every child in need. This is not just a call to action; it is a race against time to save lives and protect the future of millions of vulnerable children,”

While emphasizing the need for immediate measures to achieve longer term results, the interim Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Nigeria, Dominique Koffy Kouacou, said, “given the urgent situation, urgent interventions are needed to support short, medium. – and the long-term needs of vulnerable populations. The focus must therefore be on building resilience with the support of emergency agriculture, including seeds, fertiliser, livestock and technical training, and developing agribusiness for better production and better nutrition”.

David Stevenson, Country Director of the World Food Program (WFP), said: “We need to find a solution to conflict, and the solution is peace and production. Meanwhile, there is still conflict in the north-east which requires our urgent collective assistance. We are prioritizing access to nutritious foods through cash-based transfers, providing specialized nutritious foods, and supporting local food solutions.”

The statement from OCHA noted the need for collective efforts to improve access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to combat the spread of infectious diseases, especially among the more than 2 million people as the lean season approaches the rainy season, and the following season coincides with the rainy season. internally displaced people in overcrowded camps and settlements in the BAY states. This is vital to help break the vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition that threatens the lives of young children and other vulnerable people.

He added that alongside efforts to protect lives, there is also a need to strengthen the resilience of the people by supporting agricultural livelihoods that feed over 80 percent of the vulnerable people across BAY state. Limited funding for agricultural livelihoods continues to perpetuate cyclical food insecurity.

He recalled that this is the fourth time that the UN and the humanitarian partners are launching an operational plan for the BAY states showing the need to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition. This includes, but is not limited to, advancing peacebuilding efforts, improving access to essential health care services, supporting food production systems, improving social protection services, and mitigating the disruptions of climate change.

The multi-sectoral food security crisis and lean season nutrition plan is part of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria 2024 coordinated by the UN.

Every year, countries in the Sahel experience a difficult “poor season” between planting and harvesting. During this time, food supplies are low, pasture for livestock is scarce, and families rely on different strategies to cope with their food needs.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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