By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, has said over four million Nigerians in the region are expected to face the severe pain of food insecurity in the approaching lean season.
Schmale said this at an advocacy event held in Abuja on food security and nutrition in North-East Nigeria.
He noted that a total of 8.4 million Nigerians would need humanitarian support in the North-East, while 4.1 million people face severe pain of food insecurity in the North-East.
Schmale, however, said up to $351 million is needed to provide humanitarian support for people in North-Eastern Nigeria.
He said: “Across North-East Nigeria today, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance. Alarmingly, almost half of these crisis-affected people, 4.1 million are expected to face the severe pain of food insecurity in the approaching lean season.
“In 2021, the gap between people in need and people supported by food and nutrition assistance was 1.8 million. Due to reduced funding, that number is projected to dramatically increase to 2.9 million this lean season.
“Unless resources are urgently mobilised, almost three million people in dire need of food and nutrition support will go unassisted
“Without food assistance, desperation may compel extremely vulnerable people into transactional sex, child labour, and selling their few possessions,”
“I have heard stories from last year’s lean season of people in the North-East eating grass to stay alive, and I fear the recurrence of this tragedy if we fail to act quickly,” the UN official remarked.
The Head of Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nadia Soso, said food security and nutrition of this affected population in the north remains a priority.
“It paints a concerning picture of the great force they are up against. Imagine not only having to worry for your safety but also struggling each day to find food and adequate nutrition.
“For people across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state, every day is a challenge and in which without quick action, no relief is in sight. Funding is urgently needed to ensure critical food and relief assistance as the gap between people in need and available resources will grow more severe,” Soso said.