North-east Nigeria on the brink of catastrophic food insecurity

For north-east Nigeria, the outlook is dire. Without sustained humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, millions will struggle to feed themselves during the 2021 lean season. According to the March 2021 Cadre Harmonisé food security assessment, an estimated 4.4 million people are expected to face critical food shortages. Some 775,000 people are at extreme risk of catastrophic food insecurity—the worst outlook in 4 years. 

More than a quarter of households in north-east Nigeria are food insecure, forcing them to eat fewer meals, sell their remaining assets and borrow money to buy food. These coping mechanisms only push them deeper into a cycle of hunger, malnutrition, vulnerability and despair. To respond to the crisis, an in-country taskforce is coordinating and working with the Government to implement a comprehensive and robust operational plan, guided by an intersectoral response involving Food Security, Nutrition, Health, Protection and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) clusters. 

Insecurity, intense rains, flash flooding and drought are preventing farmers from accessing their fields and growing crops. They are doubly impacted by food insecurity, as they not only lose their ability to grow food to feed their families, but also suffer the loss of income from not being able to yield a harvest. Solving food insecurity must be approached as a long-term effort, building resilience so people can continue to earn a living through agriculture, meanwhile supporting them with food, CVA and agricultural inputs. 

The Food Security Cluster is urgently calling for USD 354 million to coordinate immediate action and save lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable people – so far less than 20% of this has been received.


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