Nigeria Continues to Face Widespread Food Security Emergency

As many as four million people in northeast Nigeria currently need emergency food aid due to ongoing conflict and significant depreciation of the Naira, according to FEWS Net’s latest coverage on the region. Large segments of the population in the northeastern part of the country are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity, with limited data suggesting some populations could even be facing possible Famine (IPC Phase 5) food insecurity.

A major driver of this ongoing food insecurity is the Boko Haram conflict, which has displaced many people and left large swathes of the northeastern population with only limited access to food, water, and health services. In addition, the conflict has limited farmers’ ability to participate in agricultural production. This has led to high staple food prices and decreased rural incomes and made it difficult for rural farming households to meet their basic food needs.

While staple food prices in other areas of the country have declined seasonally, the continued depreciation of the Nigerian Naira (driven largely by the fall in international oil prices) and rise in inflation rates mean that staple food prices remain high. For example, sorghum, millet, and maize prices in July 2016 were 155 percent, 129 percent, and 97 percent higher, respectively, than prices in July 2015. These economic factors have also lowered households’ purchasing power, making it difficult for market-dependent households throughout the country to meet their food needs as well.  

In terms of food production, Nigeria’s main harvests began in October and are expected to be average in most areas. However, some localized areas will see below-average production as a result of conflict, flooding, pest infestations, and dry spells. FEWS Net reports that flooding, in particular, could impact 14 states and as many as five million people across the country.

FEWS Net has also released a special report on Nigeria’s nutrition status, particularly in the northeastern regions. In less accessible areas of Borno and Yobe States, MUAC screenings suggest that acute child malnutrition is at “Extremely Critical” levels, with between 20 and 50 percent of children screened suffering from acute malnutrition. In more accessible areas of these states, acute child malnutrition is at “Critical” levels, with 10-15 percent of children screening suffering from acute malnutrition.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Flickr: EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie