Over 26.5m Nigerians may face food insecurity in 2024 – Report

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BY FESTUS OKOROMADU, ABUJA

There are indications that over 26.5 million Nigerians may be faced with the challenge of food insecurity in 2024.

This is contained in the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé analysis on food insecurity report released in Abuja.

Furthermore, the report shows that approximately 9 million children are at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting, while 2.6 million children could face Severe Acute Malnutrition, and may therefore require critical nutrition treatment.

The Cadre Harmonisé, an initiative focused on food and nutrition analysis, conducts studies biannually (in March and October) across 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

With the government’s leadership and the United Nations system’s support, the latest projection for 2024 indicates a sharp rise from the 18.6 million people currently vulnerable to food insecurity from October to December 2023.

According to the report, several factors are driving this trend, including ongoing conflicts, climate change impacts, escalating inflation and rising costs of both food and essential non-food commodities (in part due to the devaluation of the naira and the discontinuation of the fuel subsidy), adding that persistent violence in the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe hinders food availability and access, with additionally, armed banditry and kidnappings in northwest and north-central states, including Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger, exacerbate the prevailing economic struggles.

A joint press statement issued by the World Food Programme, FAO, UNICEF, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, underscored the significance of the Cadre Harmonisé report.

In his keynote address during the report presentation in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ernest Umakhihe, stated that despite government efforts, external challenges like the ongoing global economic effects of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, which disrupt food production system, persist.

Represented by Mrs. Fausat Lawal, Director of Special Duties, Umekhihe said out of the 18.6 million people who currently experience food insecurity, 3.3 million live in the northeastern states of the Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe region.

This number might rise to 26.5 million nationwide by the height of the 2024 lean season and to 4.4 million in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, if immediate action is not taken.

The FAO Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dominique Koffy Kouacou, called on the government to expand Cadre Harmonisé coverage to the remaining 10 states, assuring that the FAO would continue to support the government and the people of Nigeria to overcome food insecurity and malnutrition.

“In 2024, alongside our partners, FAO’s focus will be on agrifood systems transformation with deliberate attention on resilience-building, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and providing extension services,” he stated.