26.5 million Nigerians at risk of acute food crisis – UN

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, in collaboration with the World Food Programme and other partners, issued a warning on Friday, indicating that approximately 26.5 million Nigerians in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) could be on the verge of a severe food crisis. This announcement was made during the release of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonise report in Abuja and was received by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security on behalf of the government.

The Cadre Harmonisé report serves as a comprehensive tool for generating reliable, consensus-based, rigorous, and transparent analyses of the present and anticipated food and nutrition situations. It highlighted several factors contributing to the projected food crisis, including the removal of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (commonly known as petrol), the naira re-design policy, floods, conflicts, and security concerns.

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According to the Nigeria Cadre Harmonise Acute Food and Nutrition Insecurity Analysis by the UN and its partners, it was reported that, “Around 26.5 million people, including Internally Displaced Persons (approximately 528,000 in Borno, Sokoto, and Zamfara states), across 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, are anticipated to experience crisis or worse conditions between June and August 2024.”

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During the report’s presentation, Dominique Koffy, the UN FAO Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, stated that the agency had conducted extensive assessments in various Nigerian states to identify populations at risk of food and nutrition insecurity. Koffy, represented by the Assistant FAO Representative Programme, Abubakar Suleiman, shared some of the primary findings for regions affected by food and nutrition insecurity in these 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

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Regarding food consumption, he noted that as the lean season (June to August 2024) approaches, households might experience a slight to moderate deterioration in food consumption, which could push several states into crisis conditions. This decline in food consumption might be attributed to significant spikes in staple food prices following increases in fuel costs, inflation rates, and high food production expenses.

The report also highlighted a significant reduction in household stocks, with more than 60% of households reporting decreased stock levels, and over 35% having no stocks in 2023 compared to 2022 and the five-year average. The decrease in stocks was a result of extensive damage to matured, ready-to-harvest crops due to flash floods, especially in states severely affected by the 2023 floods, such as Kogi, Taraba, Plateau, and Niger states.

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The report noted limited production activities in crisis-affected states like Adamawa, Borno, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Yobe, and parts of Benue and Plateau states. Although global food supplies appeared stable, rising prices continued to hinder food accessibility across all analyzed states.

The report also emphasized the current malnutrition situation, which indicated a crisis to worse nutrition status in various states from May to September 2023, with specific focus on the North-East and North-West regions, covering Adama, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

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