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Food crisis: Nigeria seeks funding to prevent malnutrition, deaths in North-east

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To address the deteriorating food and nutrition crisis in the North-east, the Nigerian government and international partners launched an appeal seeking US$306 million for urgent intervention.

The appeal tagged: the Lean Season Plan is targeting 2.8 million affected people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states, and the funds will provide them with food assistance, nutrition supplies, clean water, healthcare, and protection.

According to a statement Tuesday,  the malnutrition rates in the BAY states are of great concern, as approximately 700,000 children under five are projected to be acutely malnourished over the next six months.

It added that 230,000 people are expected to be severely acutely malnourished and at risk of death if they do not receive timely treatment and nutrition support.

This is the fourth time that the UN and humanitarian partners are launching an operational plan for the BAY states to address hunger and malnutrition.

Vulnerable groups

According to a government-led Cadre Harmonisé analysis released in March, approximately 4.8 million people in the BAY states are experiencing food insecurity, the highest level in seven years.

The appeal also seeks to enhance protection services for “most vulnerable groups” including children, pregnant and lactating women, older persons, and people living with disabilities.

“This food and nutrition crisis, which has been compounded by soaring food prices, is primarily due to continued conflict and insecurity in the BAY states, alongside climate change impacts,” the statement read “It threatens to become catastrophic without immediate and coordinated intervention.”

The prices of foods like beans and maize have increased by 300 to 400 per cent over the past year following the removal of the fuel subsidy and the depreciation of the naira.

Comments from partners

Speaking at the launch, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Zubaida Umar underscored the importance of mobilising resources to prevent malnutrition-related deaths and other health issues.

“The mobilisation of funding and resources to address this lean season food security and nutrition crisis envisaged in the north-eastern part of the country is a step in the right direction in complementing the Federal Government’s efforts to prevent the deaths of people as a result of malnutrition-related complications,  adoption of negative coping mechanisms and other health-related issues among others,” Ms Umar said.

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mohamed Fall also announced the release of $11 million from the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund to jumpstart the emergency response.

“I am confident that we have the capacity to address these increased needs in support of Government efforts, what we need now are resources. Joining hands together, pooling resources, to save lives and stop the suffering,” Mr Fall said.

In her remarks, UNICEF Nigeria’s Acting Representative, Rownak Khan said the alarming rise in severe acute malnutrition among children underscores the urgent need for immediate action.

“This year alone, we have seen around 120,000 admissions for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition with complications, far exceeding our estimated target of 90,000,” Ms Khan said.

“We must ensure that lifesaving nutrition commodities reach every child in need. This is not just a call to action; it is a race against time to save lives and protect the future of millions of vulnerable children.”

About Lean season plan

The lean season food security and nutrition crisis multisector plan is part of the 2024 UN-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria.

According to a publication by Mr Fall, the lean season plan is a strategic response aimed at providing immediate life-saving assistance and building the resilience of affected communities.

He said: “It is a coordinated effort that calls for resources to assist people in need – from donors to humanitarian partners to the private sector and other well-wishers – with the Government in the lead both at the state and federal levels.

“This is a coordinated plan of time-critical actions to preserve and advance the humanitarian gains made in recent years.

“This is critical as we continue to jointly work in support of the Government – humanitarian and development partners together – to reduce humanitarian needs through solutions for displaced people, social protection, and improved access to basic services and livelihoods to address the underlying causes of vulnerability.”

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