Famine Likely in Nigeria

According to a special report put forth last week by FEWS Net, several areas of Nigeria likely experienced famine during 2016 and continue to face the threat of famine into 2017.

One area of particular concern is Bama Local Government Area (LGA), where the majority of the population is concentrated in Bama Town and Banki Town. FEWS Net reports that available evidence indicates that at least 2,000 people in these towns died from famine-related causes between January and September.

The report also suggests that famine could be ongoing in parts of Borno State that are inaccessible to humanitarian organizations due to conflict, but this remains unconfirmed due to a lack of data.

Significant food assistance has been sent to Bama LGA since July, which has helped reduce mortality and acute malnutrition in the region. These improvements depend on the continued delivery of food aid, however. Borno State also currently has very large emergency food assistance needs, and FEWS Net reports that current response levels are insufficient. Even if famine-level food insecurity is not ongoing in the state, large areas are still classified as Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity. This means that one in five households is dealing with large food consumption gaps, acute malnutrition is prevalent, and high mortality rates, particularly among young children, are likely. An estimate from October puts the number of people in need of emergency food assistance in Borno State at 3 million; only about 1 million people have received food assistance in 2016, however, as continued conflict makes many areas inaccessible.

FEWs Net reports that the risk of famine in these inaccessible areas of Borno State will remain high throughout 2017, due to current levels of food insecurity, below-average crop production, high staple food prices, and livelihoods that have been disrupted by the fighting.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI