THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has stated that over 25 million Nigerians may face acute hunger at the peak of the lean season (June-August) this year.
The projection was made known by WFP’s Country Director, David Stevenson, at the unveiling of the humanitarian agency’s new Country Strategic Plan (CSP) for Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
“As food insecurity continues to spike in Nigeria, over 25 million people are projected to face acute hunger at the peak of the June-August 2023 lean season,” Mr Stevenson said in his remarks.
The lean season is the period between planting and harvesting when job opportunities are scarce, and incomes plummet.
According to the Stevenson, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states alone, some 4.4 million people are projected to face acute hunger at the peak of the lean season this year. Some two million children are also projected to be acutely malnourished in the northeast states alone. “Permit me to say that humanitarian aid has not kept pace with this sharp rise in hunger levels,” He added.
Despite this, Stevenson said the WFP is assisting some 2.1 million vulnerable people in Nigeria in 2023 – through food assistance and nutrition support, cash payments and livelihood projects to help build back the resilience of the people affected by conflict.
He added that the CSP is aimed at addressing hunger and malnutrition in some parts of the North-east, North-west and fostering a reinforced partnership in strengthening the national humanitarian and development response, all in accordance with the SDGs.
He emphasised that the CSP defines WFP’s entire portfolio of assistance within the country for five years and that it would be effective from 2023 to 2027.
“The CSP is valued at US$2.56 billion and is designed to support Nigeria in achieving food security and improved nutrition by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2),” he said.
He explained that the WFP’s support is delivered through lifesaving crisis response and life-changing resilience-building activities – together with technical assistance and policy advice to help maximise the return on the government’s investment in food security and nutrition.
“The CSP, which took effect from March 2023, is aligned with Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021-2025), Nigeria Agenda (2050), the National Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (2021-2025) and the National Humanitarian Development Peace Framework,” he added.
In his remarks, Nasir Gwarzo, permanent secretary of Nigeria’s Humanitarian and Disaster Management Ministry, said the new five years plan made provision for WFP to expand its areas of assistance to the Northwest and refugee camps in Nigeria instead of the Northeast previously covered.
“It might interest you to know that the WFP supported the Ministry with the deployment of both National and International consultants whose effort contributed immensely to the development of National Policy on Cash and Voucher Assistance (NPCVA) in a Humanitarian Context,” he said.