Ene Okwanihe, Abuja
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it may soon have to cut food rations to more than half a million women, men and children in north-eastern Nigeria if funding is secured to continue support operations in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
According to the WFP the situation has been worsened by the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply and also due to the increase in the number of internally-displaced in September 2021.
WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa Chris Nikoi, following a recent visit to Nigeria said cutting food rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry.
“We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe”
“If at least US$ 55 million is not received in a matter of weeks, WFP will have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it serves ere assistance is already prioritized for the most vulnerable – as early as November”
“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Nikoi added.
WFP stated that the number of internally displaced people in northeast Nigeria has been rising steadily and reached a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021, while current food security analyses show that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria do not know where their next meal is coming from. Additionally, over 1 million children are malnourished.
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon said Cutting food assistance will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence.
“As we call upon our partners to step up their support in response to the growing needs, I would like to say thank you to those who have stood with us over the years in providing the much-needed humanitarian assistance in the country.” He said
For five years, the World Food Programme has provided food and nutrition assistance to food insecure people, displaced families in camps, and to vulnerable people living in host communities thanks to generous contributions from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America, and private donors.
This year, relying on the continued generosity of donor partners, WFP ramped up its response to address rising food insecurity and the impact of COVID-19, targeting 1.9 million displaced people in Nigeria with life-saving food assistance.
To sustain humanitarian operations in northeast Nigeria until March 2022, WFP urgently requires USD 197 million.