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Without urgent financial aid, 4.1 million Nigerians in the northeast face starvation

17 April 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes

More than four million Nigerians in the northeast will face the “severe pain of food insecurity” in the approaching lean season.

Matthias Schmale, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, speaking at an advocacy event in Abuja on food security and nutrition, said that up to $351 million was needed to provide humanitarian support.

“Across northeast Nigeria today, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance. Alarmingly, almost half of these crisis-affected people, 4.1 million, are expected to face the severe pain of food insecurity in the approaching lean season.”

He said without financial support almost three million people in dire need of food and nutrition support would go unassisted.

Without food assistance, desperation could compel extremely vulnerable people into transactional sex, child labour and selling their few possessions. I have heard stories from last year’s lean season of people in the northeast eating grass to stay alive and I fear the recurrence of this tragedy if we fail to act quickly,” Schmale said.

“For people across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state, every day is a challenge. Without quick action, no relief is in sight. Funding is urgently needed to ensure critical food and relief assistance as the gap between people in need and available resources will grow more severe,’ said Nadia Soso, the head of special duties at the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

RNI reporter Aisha Jamal visited Kawarmaila, an internally displaced persons’ camp in Maiduguri.

Muhammad Bulama, chairman of the civilian joint task force at of the camp, said: “We have been in this camp for seven and half years. Finding food has become an issue, our children have to go outside the camp to sell water sachets. If they get money, we eat. Our women sometimes get work at the market by cleaning raw grains, removing the outer unusable parts, for customers. They don’t get much money but it helps us to survive. We eat only once a day because we can’t afford cooking more than once.”

He said back in their villages they were farmers and harvested large amounts of food. “We used to give food to other people who were not so fortunate. But we can’t even go back there now because those areas are not secured. Farming there is now very dangerous and we would be vulnerable to attacks and could end up dead.”

He said Save the Children, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) used to help people in the camp by regularly providing food, but that had stopped. NEMA still gave them three bowls of rice, beans and maize, as well as oil and seasonings, but it was not enough to sustain families for long.

“Even my ₦20,000 salary does not sustain me, my wife and our and seven children. But it is even worse for my neighbours because they do not have work and get no money,” Bulama said.

“We want to go back to our village once peace has been restored so that we can farm and sell our produce at the market. Many IDPs have returned to their original local government areas but my place, in the Bama Local Government Area, is one of the worst hit by armed gunmen. We cannot go back because it is still very dangerous, so we have stay here to remain safe even though there are many hardships.”

Falmata Kawu said: “It has been three months since I last received food assistance. Thankfully, my neighbors help us by giving us sweet potatoes or other food. We eat what we get because there is no business or capital to depend on. We are forced to live here but it is not easy.”

Abubakar Bama, who sells fruit at the Custom Market in Maiduguri, said he had no capital for his business but he had to carry on because his family depended on him.

All the IDPS confirmed that conditions had worsened in the camp and they all feared the threat of starvation.


About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.