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How Nigeria can end food waste and hunger by 2023

A report by the government and the UN warns of the risk of hunger and malnutrition for 25 million Nigerians in 2023, and suggests ways to improve food security and nutrition.

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria, a country with abundant agricultural resources and potential, is facing a serious challenge of food insecurity and malnutrition. According to a recent report by the government and the UN, nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August 2023, if urgent action is not taken. This is a projected increase from the estimated 17 million people currently at risk of food insecurity.

The report, based on the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a food and nutrition analysis carried out twice a year, identifies the main drivers of this alarming trend as continued conflict, climate change, inflation, and rising food prices. These factors have affected food access, production, and storage, especially in the conflict-affected north-east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and the banditry-prone states of Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger.

The report also warns of the serious risk of mortality among children due to acute malnutrition. In the northeast states alone, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition is expected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to 2 million in 2023. The northwest region, around Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states, is also an emerging food insecurity and malnutrition hotspot, with an estimated 2.9 million people currently critically food insecure.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, said that the food security and nutrition situation across Nigeria is deeply concerning and called for immediate action to ensure that vulnerable people get the lifesaving support they need. He said that he has visited nutrition stabilization centers filled with children who are fighting to stay alive.

The UN and its partners, such as UNICEF, MSF, and ALIMA, are working with the government to scale up preventive and curative nutrition interventions while ensuring that affected populations have access to food assistance, cash transfers, agricultural inputs, and livelihood opportunities. In 2022, UNICEF and its partners were able to reach approximately 650,000 children with life-saving nutrition services across the six most affected states.

However, the humanitarian response is hampered by funding shortfalls, insecurity, and access constraints. The UN and its partners have appealed for $1.08 billion to assist 8.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Nigeria in 2023, but so far only 10 percent of the required funds have been received.

The government needs to invest more in the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 22 percent of the country’s GDP and employs about 70 percent of the labor force. The report recommends that the government should implement policies and programs that promote food production, processing, preservation, and distribution, as well as address the root causes of conflict and climate change that undermine food security and stability.

The report also highlights the need for more data and evidence to inform decision-making and action on food security and nutrition. It calls for the strengthening of the national food security and nutrition information system, as well as the regular conduct of the Cadre Harmonisé analysis and other assessments.

Nigeria has the potential to achieve food security and end hunger by 2023, if it harnesses its abundant resources and opportunities, and adopts a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach that puts the needs and rights of the people at the center.


Source: The Guardian Nigeria

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