The United Nations (UN) estimates that up to 5.2 million people in northeastern Nigeria are experiencing acute food insecurity and require emergency food assistance, largely as a result of insurgency, resultant displacement and loss of means of livelihoods.
This was revealed in a “Draft Nigeria Country Plan Global Food Security Strategy” document sent to Daily Sun by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which said food availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability remain a challenge in Nigeria.
Despite government’s effort to strengthen the agricultural sector to generate broad-based growth and achieve food security, an annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent in food production remains sub-optimal.
Furthermore, the document also revealed that the menace Boko Haram insurgency and resultant counter-insurgency measures by the Nigerian military have severely reduced trade, market activities and agricultural production in northeastern Nigeria, resulting in significantly increased food insecurity in these areas in recent years.
Moreover, the organisation explained that the volatility in global food prices, restrictions on the ability of Nigerian importers to access foreign exchange, and wide gaps between official and parallel market exchange rates have led to increases in the prices of imported foods, contributing to rising vulnerability among poorer urban and rural households in Nigeria.
With Nigeria’s population growing at an alarming 3.2 per cent per annum, the organisation suggested that food availability, accessibility, stability and utilisation must constantly be increased to prevent food insecurity.
“With an estimated population of 182 million people (50.5 per cent male and 49.5 per cent female) in 2016 and an annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent, Nigeria will have a projected population of 440 million people by 2050. This has serious implications for increased food productivity and security.”
Food security is closely linked to hunger and malnutrition. Nigeria’s 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) scores of 25.5 against the 2000 score of 40.9 indicates a substantial reduction in hunger. However, the 38 per cent reduction in hunger over the last 16 years still represents a serious level of hunger based on the GHI severity scale. According to the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 37 per cent of children under five years of age are stunted; with 21 per cent severely stunted.
This indicates chronic, long-standing malnutrition. The highest levels of severe and moderate stunting are found in children between 18 and 23 months, with approximately half of the children in this age category stunted.