The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, has said that about four million Nigerians will face severe food insecurity in the approaching lean season.
Speaking at an advocacy event held in Abuja on food security and nutrition in North-East Nigeria, Schmale explained that a total of 8.4 million Nigerians would need humanitarian support in the North-East, saying that 4.1 million people would face severe pain of food insecurity in the region.
To support the people, the Coordinator stated that up to $351 million is needed to provide humanitarian assistance.
According to him, “Across North-East Nigeria today, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance. Alarmingly, almost half of these crisis-affected people, 4.1 million are expected to face the severe pain of food insecurity in the approaching lean season.”
He explained that in 2021, the gap between people in need and people supported by food and nutrition assistance was 1.8 million, stressing that due to reduced funding, that number is projected to dramatically increase to 2.9 million this lean season.
He opined that unless resources are urgently mobilised, almost three million people in dire need of food and nutrition support will go unassisted.
He stated that without food assistance, desperation may compel extremely vulnerable people into transactional sex, child labour, and selling their few possessions.
Schmale observed that he heard stories from last year’s lean season of people in the North-East eating grass to stay alive and feared the recurrence of this tragedy if they fail to act quickly.
Nadia Soso, the Head of Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, said that food security and nutrition of this affected population in the north remains a priority.
He said that the situation paints a concerning picture of the great force they are up against, adding that not only having to worry for one’s safety but also struggling each day to find food and adequate nutrition.
He said that for people across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state, every day is a challenge and in which without quick action, no relief is in sight, saying that funding is urgently needed to ensure critical food and relief assistance as the gap between people in need and available resources will grow more severe.