Latest On Food And Malnutrition Crisis In North-East Nigeria
The Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria has led to an unprecedented food crisis, especially among children in this region. We saw an out-pour of both local and international support to humanitarian crisis in this region, yet, because of the size of the problem, more support is needed to curb food insecurity in the region.
Following recent events of humanitarian crisis in different parts of the world, we expect that global attention will, from time-to-time, shift away from food crisis following insurgency in north-east Nigeria. But we will continuously seek and sustain attention and support to the region.
Below is a summary of recent update on food insecurity and malnutrition crisis in north-east Nigeria.
Federal Government Supports Health And Nutrition Emergency Response Program
Most times we only hear negative and sometimes sad news about the inadequate federal government support to the nutrition crisis in the north-east. The positive and cheerful news slips away from us.
This time, the federal government of Nigeria has taken a giant stride in the level of support it gives to curb the health and nutrition crisis in the north-east. The Honorable Ministry of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole presents medicines and vehicles to Borno State (1).
The Impact of Boko Haram Insurgency In North-East Nigeria Is Huge
Amidst the positive news of federal government support, the food crisis in the north-east is still dire. Each time a development or humanitarian organization provides food and other support to the north-east, it seems as the size of the problem was initially under estimated.
According to the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, the size of food insecurity caused by Boko Haram in the north is huge and no government can handle it (2).
Under-Five Population Has Been Lost In The North-East Crisis
There is no doubt the malnutrition crisis following Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east generated a lot of “political cloud” among donor agencies, humanitarian organizations and governments of affected states and the federal government. The fact still remains- the region has lost a whole generation of under-five children. The New York Times highlights on child malnutrition crisis and how key stakeholders respond to it (3).
Has The Food Crisis Situation In The North-East Reached The State Of “Famine”?
The call for increasing support has yielded positive results, as we have seen in recent times, the donations and humanitarian relief efforts in the north-east (in the face of global demand for humanitarian relief and support) is increasing. We have also seen efforts of the Nigerian government to deliver and manage this support in more efficient ways.
But is the Nigerian government doing enough to tackle food insecurity in the north-east? This is because the president, Muhammadu Buhari, is accused of “ignoring famine warnings” in the north-east (4). Is the region in the verge of “famine”? (5). Is the term “famine” loosely applied to the food crisis in northern Nigeria? Justa Hopma highlights on famine, as it applies to the situation in north-east Nigeria (6).
The 2017 Budget On Health Is Far From Addressing The Current Malnutrition Crisis In The North-East
Since the 2017 health budget was appropriated, stakeholders and concerned citizens have expressed fear that the appropriation to health will not cater for the pressing need to tackle child malnutrition in the north-east. Even with increasing support from international donors, we will continue to see child malnutrition and death in this region, if the health budget remains the same (7).
The food crisis in north-east Nigeria will linger for a long time- until normalcy returns to the region. Unless governments, donors (local and international) increase and sustain support to the region, the people affected by the insurgency in the north-east cannot rebuild their lives and put food back on their plates.
Stakeholders’ support to ease the sufferings of people of the north-east is impressive and overwhelming. But we are neither close to winning the battle, nor are we near winning the war to end food crisis in north-east Nigeria.