UN approves $20m to support food supply, others in North-East Nigeria

THE United Nations (UN) has approved $20 million to scale up emergency response to food security and nutrition crisis in Nigeria’s North-East.

The approval was contained in a statement mailed to The ICIR by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Tuesday, June 20.

The UN took $9 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and another $11 million from the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF), making the total $20 million approved by the global body.

The statement said the fund would be used for a coordinated multisectoral response aimed at preventing deterioration to famine or famine-like conditions in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, which continue to face humanitarian crises arising from a decade-long insurgency.

Six million dollars from the CERF allocation will go to the World Food Programme for food security interventions (including food and voucher assistance) for 95,000 extremely food-insecure people in three ‘garrison’ towns of Borno State.

Another $2 million from the money will go to the UN Children’s Fund to prevent and treat acute malnutrition, including providing ready-to-eat therapeutic food and Tom Brown solutions – a nutrient-rich locally produced supplementary food.

Similarly, $1 million will be spent on the Food and Agriculture Organization for seeds, tools and other agricultural livelihood support to boost local production of nutritious foods to build resilience for people in the region.

“Most of the NHF funding ($11 million) will go towards improving access to clean water and sanitation hygiene, and nutrition (including reactivating, sustaining and scaling up the bed capacity at stabilization centres and scaling up outpatient therapeutic feeding programmes).

“The rest of the funding will go to healthcare (including the integrated management of childhood illnesses and complicated SAM cases), and to protection services with a focus on gender-based violence, child protection and mine action. The NHF aims to allocate 50 per cent of funding to eligible national partners on the frontlines,” part of the statement said.

The UN noted that almost 700,000 children under five years might suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the three states this year.

It said the population was more than double the number of SAM cases in 2022 and four times the number of cases in 2021.

The UN added that more than half a million people in the three states were projected to face emergency levels of food insecurity – one step away from famine – from June to August, which is the peak of the lean season, according to the March 2023 Cadre Harmonisé analysis.

The statement read, “The lean season also coincides with the rainy season, when the incidence of acute watery diarrhoea, cholera, malaria and other diseases increases, aggravating the precarious situation of malnourished children.

“The alarming food security and nutrition crisis is primarily the result of years of protracted conflict and insecurity which continue to prevent many people from growing the food they need, or earning an income to procure food.”

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, said, extremely high rates of acute malnutrition deaths were predicted “unless there is a rapid and significant scale-up of humanitarian assistance.“

Schmale appealed to the Nigerian government, donors and the international community to make urgent funding available to protect the lives and future of vulnerable children in the region.

He said, “On 18 May, humanitarian organizations appealed for a prioritised $396 million of this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) appeal for a multisectoral response to the lean season food security and nutrition crisis. While the CERF and NHF funds will help jumpstart this response combined, they represent less than five per cent of the required funding.”

In March, The ICIR reported how internally-displaced persons in Borno state alleged that the government had abandoned them.

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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