Nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of starvation between June and August 2023 (the lean season) if urgent action is not taken, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a government-led and supported food and nutrition analysis. by the UN that takes place twice a year. .

This is a projected increase from the currently estimated 17 million people at risk of food insecurity.

A press release posted on the UNICEF website indicated that continued conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices were key drivers of this alarming trend.

“Access to food has been affected by ongoing violence in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe and by armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger.

“According to the National Emergency Management Agency, widespread flooding in the 2022 rainy season damaged more than 676,000 hectares of farmland, lowering harvests and increasing the risk of food insecurity for families across the globe. country.

“Flooding is one of the effects of climate change and variability affecting Nigeria. More extreme weather patterns are anticipated that will affect food security in the future,” she said.

The UN said that of the 17 million people who are currently food insecure, three million are in the northeastern Bay states. Without immediate action, this figure is expected to rise to 4.4 million in the lean season.

This includes highly vulnerable displaced populations and returnees who are already struggling to survive a large-scale humanitarian crisis in which 8.3 million people are in need of assistance.

Nigerian Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Matthias Schmale said the food security and nutrition situation in Nigeria is very worrying.

“I have visited nutrition stabilization centers full of children struggling to stay alive. We must act now to make sure they and others get the vital support they need,” Schmale said.

The report further said that about six of the 17 million Nigerians who are currently food insecure are children under the age of five living in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states.

“There is a serious risk of infant mortality attributed to acute malnutrition. In the BAY states alone, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition is expected to rise from 1.74 million in 2022 to two million in 2023.

“UNICEF, working with the government and partners like MSF and ALIMA, is investing in scaling up preventive nutrition interventions, while ensuring vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition services. In 2022, UNICEF with its partners was able to reach approximately 650,000 children with life-saving nutrition services in the six states mentioned above.

“The northwestern region, around the states of Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto, is a hotspot of growing food insecurity and malnutrition. An estimated 2.9 million people are currently critically food insecure (Cadre Harmonisé Phase 3 or worse). This number is expected to rise to 4.3 million in the lean season if urgent action is not taken.

“With partners, FAO has been supporting the government to restore livelihoods in the North East and North West regions. This includes livestock production, crop production, home micro-gardening, value chain development and aquaculture,” he added.

The UN urged the federal government, the donor community, and public and private stakeholders to urgently commit resources and implement mitigation measures to save lives and prevent a potentially catastrophic food security and nutrition situation.