Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), has targeted 98 400 households, which translates to 688 800 people, for assistance during the ongoing rainy season in the North-east.
This follows assistance rendered to 78,000 households, about 546,000 people, during the 2018/19 dry season activities in the troubled region by FAO.
A statement by FAO, made available to our correspondent on Wednesday, said the targeted people would be assisted with crop seed and fertiliser, noting that the success of the 2019 rainy season will determine the food security and income needs of about 80 percent of the people in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
The statement further said that: “78 000 households (546 000 people) in northeastern Nigeria were targeted for FAO’s 2018/19 dry season activities – FAO has distributed fertiliser and high yielding, early maturing rice and maize seeds as well as vegetable seeds.
“While the dry season has historically represented a break in farming, continued crop production during this period is central to enabling stronger, more resilient and food-secure farming households.”
The statement added that: “Small-scale farmers require immediate assistance to boost their resilience ahead of the forthcoming lean season (June–August), as close to 2.7 million people will face severe food insecurity if humanitarian efforts do not continue.”
It recalled that “a decade of conflict has severely affected food production systems in northeastern Nigeria, with the worst affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe experiencing high displacement, enormous human, social and economic losses and severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.”
It lamented that: “The overall impact of the conflict on agriculture is estimated at $3.7 billion (World Bank and Buhari Plan).
Of the 1.9 million IDPs, who face significant food and livelihood challenges in the three northeastern states (DTM IOM Round XXVI, January 2019), more than 80 percent are in Borno.
“Due to the influx of IDPs and the tense security situation, host communities have reduced access to land and other resources for food production, leading to high levels of poverty and malnutrition.”
The statement further lamented that: “Vulnerable households also face less access to humanitarian services due to the inaccessibility of some areas deemed ‘no go’ amid security concerns. Compounding these challenges is a severe climate variability that is negatively affecting production systems, resulting in reduced crop yields and livestock productivity.”
It said: “Thanks to the provision of food and livelihood assistance, acute food insecurity in three northeastern states has reduced from 2.5 million (October‒December 2017) to 1.7 million people (October‒December 2018). However, if humanitarian actions do not continue, 2.7 million people are likely to face severe food insecurity in June–August 2019 (Cadre Harmonisé, November 2018).”
The statement noted that: “Among conflict-affected households in northeastern Nigeria, including IDPs and returnees, the demand for food and livelihood support is high. The region hosts more than 1.6 million returnees, who are eager to resume their livelihood activities and who face difficult agricultural production challenges owing to a loss of assets and income in the last decade.
“While humanitarian efforts have bolstered food production during the 2018 rainy and 2018/19 dry seasons, and improved access to food, crisis-affected households are yet to return to pre-conflict levels of food production. This is largely due to limited access to land and capital to invest in agricultural inputs. The success of this year’s rainy season will determine the food security and income needs of about 80 percent of the people in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
“Safe access to fuel and energy (SAFE) is inadequate in northeastern Nigeria, posing risks in terms of malnutrition, protection (e.g. attacks during the collection of wood), deforestation, health risks and tensions over natural resources.
“Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States also show the high vulnerability and low adaptive capacity to the effects of climate change, particularly dry spells, erratic rainfall and floods.”