Nigeria is drowning in a food crisis. According to the United Nations, the country’s northeastern state of Borno is experiencing the worst condition with over 250,000 children under five who could suffer from acute malnutrition this year and almost 50,000 infants who could die.
The number of hungry people in the African country is on the rise on a daily basis as more towns are being freed from the shackles of the Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram. Currently, there are approximately 750,000 who can’t be reached in the north east, and aid groups think that the most affected areas in northeastern Borno are completely immersed in famine which hints that 30% of the inhabitants are suffering from malnutrition. These numbers are rapidly increasing since the beginning of 2016 with at least a million in “severity level four” and another 75,000 people facing outright famine.
In the past years, Nigeria has spent billion in importing food from various countries. A UN official stated that Nigeria spends around $20 billion on food yearly. Nigeria has faced food shortage for quite some time due to the insurgency by affiliate of the Islamic State; Boko Haram.
The Boko Haram war began back in 2009 whose consequences and repercussions are witnessed by Nigerian citizens today.They have been starved and deprived of stable livelihoods ever since the terrorist group began the conflict. Reports also state that the insurgency has left over 2.6 million homeless in the past seven years. A result of the Islamist group invasion has led to the spilt of northern Cameroon, western Chad, and southeast Niger. The entire northeast region used to be an expansive field for food production and animal husbandry, which is now charred and laid waste by the upheaval of Boko Haram insurgency. U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator Toby Lanzer said that conditions in the country were worsened by a “demographic explosion” in the Lake Chad basin when migrants started to move towards Europe.
The country is facing its worst ever catastrophe since the 1960’s war. The irony however, is the crisis in Nigeria is not being given the importance and attention it deserves despite the level of malnutrition being, “far, far, far above what (we find) in an emergency situation” as stated by Dr Bamidele Omotola, a nutrition specialist with the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Apart from the famine, the nation is also going through deep recession. Toby Lanzer said, “The government’s capacity to run itself is very stretched”. The Nigerian currency, naira has lost value and inflation has caused food, fuel and commodity prices to rise uncontrollably.
With the calamity worsening every passing day, the United Nations has appealed to many international donors to contribute and save the nation from getting doomed. As rightly stated by a UN spokesperson, the Nigerian economic condition demands expectation from the international community to “step up” and offer the resources needed to save the country. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will introduce a plea for funding on Friday at the UN General Assembly meeting 23 September.