OXFAM says millions of Nigerians in North east may die of malnutrition and hunger


OXFAM in Nigeria says 5.8 million people in the northeast are experiencing food insecurity and might die of malnutrition, if urgent food assistance is not provided.
Deputy Director, Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr Constant Tchona, said it was imperative for the Federal Government to step up implementation of policies that directly benefit smallholder farmers to enhance food production in the country.
Tchona, who was speaking at the presentation of a report tagged; ‘Fine Words Do not Produce Food’, in Abuja, revealed that out of the 5.8million people, 5.2 million are living in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
He explained that insurgency, militancy and Fulani/farmers crisis had pushed communities in the country into dangerous levels of food insecurity. According to him, there is an urgent need for the government and other relevant stakeholders to scale-up food assistance to save lives, while improving humanitarian access to prevent famine in the volatile region.
“Now in its eighth year, the conflict in Northeast Nigeria has pushed communities into dangerous levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. According to OCHA Crisis update for October 2017, over five million people are food insecure and at crisis and emergency level.
“Over 450,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In pockets of Borno state, over 50,000 people are living in famine-like conditions and don’t have access to humanitarian services. Food still remains the biggest unmet need of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The bulk of humanitarian funding required for 2017 is needed for food security and agriculture, totaling 480 million USD; and so far, as of September, only 45 percent of the funding has been received,” he said.
Tchona noted that the implantation of agricultural reforms had little impact on small-scale farmers.
“The need for transformation in policy can’t be more urgent. Nigeria is not in shortage of policy, there are commendable policies in Nigeria, yet there are problems. Why? It is because the implementation of those policies doesn’t reach the small-scale farmers,” he said.
“Programmes that have demonstrated success in enhancing food production and providing a ready market for products, such as Lake Rice and the GESS, should be sustained and improved to support smallholder farmers. These programmes should consider conducting a needs assessment that draws on the input of farmer groups and community leaders. Rather than uniform services, farmers should receive what they need- some farmers require fertilizer while others in lowland areas are in need of other services.”


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