Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Food shortage hits Northeast, threatens over 2m people – USAID

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that, at least 2.4 million people in the northeast are under threat of short food supply. The agency said the shortage is due to the activities of Boko Haram insurgency, which has reduced farming and food production in the region.

The information, which was posted by Mr Bruce Isaacson on the agency’s website, said the northeast needs urgent food and humanitarian aids.

He warned that the situation could become more severe if urgent steps were not taken to salvage it.

“We are faced with the challenges of ending hunger and malnutrition as food production adjusts to global warming. Nigerian government says violence has pushed food insecurity and malnutrition to emergency levels in northeast,” he said.

He warned that the survival of people was of great concern, adding it could lead to famine in the area’s most isolated places.

According to him, “It is difficult to judge the level of hunger due to the lack of access and data. A regional offensive last year drove Boko Haram from much of the territory it held in the area, undermining its seven-year campaign to carve out an Islamist caliphate.”

“But the militants have since struck back with suicide bombings and hit and run attacks on civilians. The violence, which has killed more than 15,000 people and uprooted 2.4 million in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has pushed food insecurity and malnutrition to emergency levels in the northeast,” he added.

The USAID official stressed that people are struggling to obtain food due to lack of humanitarian access, disruption to markets and agriculture and rising prices caused by the naira’s depreciation.

He said in the past, “improving security had enabled aid agencies to reach areas that were previously cut off, but many remain unreachable due to the ongoing violence and lack of security.”
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in May announced it would provide food aid to more than 400,000 people to avert the threat of famine in the area as the lean season approaches.

Corroborating, Luca Russo of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said, “Even if there is no full famine situation in those areas, it’s clear the situation is extremely dramatic.

The UN Children’s Agency has also said the people are already in a situation, which is very difficult to reverse in terms of degradation of livelihoods and nutrition.

“Tens of thousands of children in northeast may die of malnutrition this year unless they receive treatment soon,” it warned.

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