The Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, an offshoot of the United Nations has said that a total of $232 million will be needed to provide food for over 3 million people who stand a risk of starvation in the Lake Chad Basin, including Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Director General of FAO, Jose da Silva, on Friday, said that in Nigeria alone, about $191 million is required for over 2.5 million people that have been rendered food-insecure as a result of the Boko Haram crisis.
This sum, according to Da-Silva, will cover from 2017 to 2019, adding that its budget has not been met.
The FAO boss made these comments in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, where the organization is financing a farming programme for internally displaced persons.
He said that the targeted beneficiaries across the countries in the Lake Chad Basin in the next three years are as follows: Cameroon – 200,000 persons at a cost of $13.8 million; Niger Republic – 155,000 persons at $11 million, and Chad – 120,000 people at $12.5 million.
Da-Silva, who arrived Maiduguri from Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, noted that four strategic frameworks need to be employed in order to effectively tackle the food crisis in the region.
The first is to ensure enhanced food production so as to reduce nutrition gap. Then income opportunities must be created for citizens to improve and diversify their means of livelihood.
Also, efforts must be made to sustain relative peace, as well as ensure adequate management of natural resource. Similarly, resource-based conflict reduction including at a cross-border level must be promoted.
Finally food security analysis, coordination and information management must be ensured.
Da Silva noted that “in the most affected areas of these four countries,conflict and displacements are adding to other structural factors that are undermining the livelihoods of the population, increasing food insecurity and poverty, diminishing the access to basic and social services(including) water, sanitation, health and education.”
The FAO chief disclosed that the Lake Chad Basin crisis is currently one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with 11 million people in need of assistance, 7.1 million food insecure people, 515,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; added to the fact that the rate of under-five mortality in IDP camps is four times the emergency threshold.
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, in his remarks stressed that the world must urgently address the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin before it gets out of hand.
Shettima who lamented that the area is perhaps the poorest and most unattended to region in the world, said should nothing be done to address its deprivation, then Europe should be prepared for over 30 million refugees from Nigeria.
Also, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who was present at the event, said the only way to solve many of Africa’s problems is by investing in agriculture which he described as the fastest way to drive poverty away from the continent.