The latest ‘Hunger Hotspots of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) early warnings on acute food insecurity’ report released yesterday showed that Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Yemen remain at ‘highest alert’ as countries with catastrophic conditions.
According to the report, Afghanistan and Somalia were new entries to this worrisome category since the last hotspots report released January 2022.
It maintained that the six countries all have parts of the population facing Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’ or at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions, with up to 750,000 people facing starvation and death.
The report warned that the war in Ukraine had exacerbated the already steadily rising food and energy prices worldwide, which were already affecting economic stability across all regions.
It noted that the effects were expected to be particularly acute where economic instability and spiraling prices combine with drops in food production due to climate shocks such as recurrent droughts or flooding
For Nigeria, the report highlighted that reaching the highest level on record, about 19.5 million people in the country were projected to be in Crisis or worse (CH Phase 3 or above) levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season (June-August 2022), including 1.2 million in Emergency (CH Phase 4), if humanitarian interventions are not scaled up and sustained.
“Reflecting the high numbers of food insecurity, the situation remains extremely concerning in the conflict-affected areas of northern Nigeria, where insecurity and access challenges are likely to persist.
“Even though humanitarian assistance, including food assistance and support to agricultural livelihoods, has brought some relief in the northeast, there is a marked deterioration of acute food insecurity levels projected for the lean season (June-August), combined with
an outlook of continued insecurity and access challenges.
“Several local government areas (LGAs) are inaccessible or hard to reach by humanitarian assistance due to insecurity in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. These three states contain about half the population in Emergency (CH Phase 4), and more than one quarter of people in critical need of emergency assistance (CH Phase 4) in Borno are projected to be located in inaccessible areas where access to life-saving assistance is expected to be lacking.
“Strong efforts are needed to reach those most vulnerable populations with humanitarian assistance,” the report stated concerning Nigeria.
However, it noted that for Nigeria in the Cadre Harmonisé March 2022 update, no population were classified in Catastrophe (CH Phase 5), unlike in the previous analysis, but noted that the record-high levels of acute food insecurity are of serious concern.
“Importantly, the population in Emergency (CH Phase 4) is expected to reach close to 1.2 million people during the peak of the lean season from June to August 2022, including in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe where some LGAs continue to be inaccessible or hard to reach.
“Precarious security conditions, macroeconomic challenges, high and further increasing food prices and a prospect of localised below-average harvests are likely to further aggravate acute food-insecurity levels also outside Borno State in the outlook period, while acute malnutrition prevalence remains high in several states, and exceeding 15 percent in three LGAs of Sokoto State,” the report added.
“In the Middle Belt and southern regions of Nigeria, the latest forecasts indicate an increased likelihood of below-average rainfall which could reduce yields and result in crop losses, with a potential impact on pick up food prices, northern parts of Nigeria and large parts of the Sahel are expected to see average to above-average rainfall with good prospects for crops, but also an increased risk of localised flooding,” it stated further.