Nigeria: A serious food and nutrition crisis affects 4 million people in the northeast (UN)

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The Harmonized Framework of March 2022, a tool used to identify areas at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition in the Sahel and West Africa, projects that between June and September, 4.1 million people will be in of food insecurity. Among them, nearly 600,000 people are expected to find themselves in an emergency situation. This is characterized by “significant deficits in food consumption”.

In such a scenario, “very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality” are to be expected. This high-risk period, the lean season, overlaps with the rainy season, a time when children are vulnerable to epidemics, with weakened resistance if they are malnourished.

For children, UN humanitarian agencies fear child malnutrition is becoming increasingly dangerous in the northeast of the country. About 1.74 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in the northeast in 2022.

More than 300,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition and risk of death

Among them, more than 300,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are at high risk of death if they do not receive urgent treatment. “This food insecurity is painfully felt across the region, especially as operations desperately need funding,” Matthias Schmale, Acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, told a conference in press in Geneva.

In Yobe State, families have not received food aid for almost eight months. “Some people go without food for days without knowing where their next meal will come from,” Schmale added, noting the difficulty of making the case for some humanitarian crises, such as Nigeria, with the Ukraine crisis.

More broadly, 8.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. “People in northeast Nigeria are already extremely vulnerable after 12 years of conflict,” said the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai.

Faced with this worrying humanitarian situation, a multi-sectoral response plan has been put in place by the UN and humanitarian partners to provide vital assistance. According to the UN, the objective is to “prevent a potentially catastrophic food and nutrition situation”.

The UN “needs financial resources today and not tomorrow”

The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan aims to help 5.5 million people in need and, as Mr Schmale describes it, it is a two-pronged process. “Most of the response is focused on emergency relief, but at the same time our approach aims to get people out of vulnerable situations and reduce humanitarian needs by focusing increasingly on durable solutions and building resilience where possible,” he argued.

The plan requires $351 million and is part of the overall $1.1 billion request for the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is severely underfunded at 19%. “I can’t stress enough that we need the resources today and not tomorrow,” Mr. Schmale insisted.

It should be noted that the Acting United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria briefed Member States in Geneva on the needs, challenges and opportunities in the North East. He described the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation as a problem that requires “immediate support”.

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