Nigeria, UN Launch US$306m Appeal Fund to Tackle Urgent Food, Nutrition Crisis

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

An appeal for US$306 million has been launched by Nigeria and the United Nations to tackle projected food security and nutrition crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states during the lean season of May to September.

The appeal was launched yesterday in Abuja with the aim of fast-tracking food assistance, nutrition supplies and services, clean water, healthcare, and protection support to people in severe need during the period in the three states that were heavily impacted by the over one decade Boko Haram crisis.

According to the government-led Cadre Harmonisé analysis released in March this year, some 4.8 million people were estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, the highest levels in seven years in the BAY states,

The report specified that children, pregnant and lactating women, older persons, and people living with disabilities were among the most vulnerable.

The appeal is expected to provide urgent succour to 2.8 million and make them insusceptible to the lean season food insecurity and nutrition crisis with a multi sectoral plan put in place.

A statement by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the food and nutrition crisis, which has been compounded by soaring food prices, was primarily due to continued conflict and insecurity in the BAY states, alongside climate change impacts.

“It threatens to become catastrophic without immediate and coordinated intervention. The prices of staple foods like beans and maize have increased by 300 to 400 per cent over the past year following the removal of the fuel subsidy and the depreciation of the naira. Inflation is outpacing the ability of families to cope, making essential food items unaffordable,” it said.

It claimed that the malnutrition rates were of great concern, adding: “Approximately 700,000 children under five are projected to be acutely malnourished over the next six months, including 230,000 who are expected to be severely acutely malnourished and at risk of death if they do not receive timely treatment and nutrition support.” 

Speaking at the launch, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Zubaida Umar  said, “The mobilisation of funding and resources to address this lean season food security and nutrition crisis envisaged in the north-eastern part of the country is a step in the right direction in complementing the Federal Government’s efforts to prevent the deaths of people as a result of malnutrition-related complications,  adoption of negative coping mechanisms and other health related issues among others.”

Announcing the release of $11 million from the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund to jumpstart the emergency response, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Mohamed Malick Fall, addressed the essence of the initiative.

“I am confident that we have the capacity to address these increased needs in support of Government efforts, what we need now are resources. Joining hands together, pooling resources, to save lives and stop the suffering,” he said. 

Acting Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr Rownak Khan, on his part, said, “UNICEF is deeply concerned about the escalating food security and nutrition crisis in the BAY states. The alarming rise in severe acute malnutrition among children underscores the urgent need for immediate action.”

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