As Food Crisis in North-east Gets Worse, UN Food Agencies Team Up to Secure Livelihoods


Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have launched a joint effort to support conflict-affected people in North-eastern Nigeria to increase their food production and reduce dependence on food assistance.

Using a ‘twin track’ approach, FAO is said to be providing enough seed and fertiliser to produce up to eight months’ worth of food during the 2018 rainy season, while WFP covers the food needs of households until these crucial harvests in September Inger Marie Vennize, Head of Communication WFP, Nigeria, stated in a statement.
The statement stated in Rann, in Borno State and close to the Cameroonian border, WFP is providing life-saving support to all 67,000 people living in the town.

Meanwhile, FAO provided seeds and fertilisers to about a quarter of Rann’s households who have safe access to land and who, through a community-based assessment, proved capable of growing food.

This includes families who have sought refuge in Rann as well as the host population.
Farmers in Rann and more than 30 other locations can plant maize, sorghum, millet and cowpeas following the distributions.

In most places, they also received sesame, groundnuts, sweet pepper and watermelon seed for income generation.
“Families in north-east Nigeria have been affected by conflict for nine years, and many have gone through terrible times. We need to work harder and together to put people back on the track of self-reliance, to rebuild their livelihoods and to restore their dignity. This joint assistance by FAO and WFP is a step in that direction,” WFP Representative in Nigeria, Myrta Kaulard was quoted as saying.

“FAO is assisting both the growing number of farmers who have returned to their villages to resume production, as well as the many still forced to live in camps,” said FAO Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma.

“In addition to distributing inputs like seed, we are expanding our farmer field school and savings and loans programmes in the region to strengthen both farming skills and access to finance for agri-business development.”
The statement added that during the rainy season, spanning June to September, FAO will assist over one million people to become more food secure through farming, saying the organization is mid-way into its distribution of disease and drought-tolerant varieties of crop seed and fertilizer using a kit system.

‘’In Kit 1, FAO is distributing maize, millet or sorghum alongside cowpea seed and fertilizer. Kits 2 and 3 are solely for women-headed households and contain vegetable and cash crop seed, respectively. The vegetable kit features okra and amaranth, a green leafy vegetable. Income-boosting groundnut and sesame, relished by women for their good market prices, round out kit 3’’, the statement explained.

Every month, WFP is for its part providing food and cash assistance to around 1.2 million food insecure and vulnerable people. To prevent malnutrition, WFP is also distributing specialized food to around 200,000 young children and almost 150,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women.

In its 2018 appeal for northeastern Nigeria, FAO requested USD 31.5 million to assist farmers recover from the impact of the conflict, and about USD 13.2 million is said to have been received, leaving a gap of USD 18.3 million.

WFP said that it urgently requires USD 49 million to continue lifesaving support until the end of 2018 to assist the most food insecure and vulnerable Nigerians.