Hunger is more prevalent in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In these regions, poverty, lack of access to resources such as land and water, and political instability are major contributors to hunger. Climate change is also exacerbating the problem, as extreme weather events such as droughts and floods can destroy crops and disrupt food systems.
While hunger remains a global problem, the devastating effects are local and in Nigeria, the effects are evident for vulnerable Nigerians. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently issued a warning that nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of severe hunger between June and August this year.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, continuing conflicts, climate change, inflation and high food prices are the main causes of hunger. Currency depreciation has also been mentioned as a contributing factor to this problem. FAO noted that ongoing terrorism in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, as well as banditry and kidnappings in Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Benue states, and Niger have all impeded access to food.
She also noted that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that more than 676,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed by floods last year, leading to lower harvests and increased food insecurity across Nigeria, increasing the risk of hunger. The FAO, a United Nations agency, added that extreme weather patterns that have an impact on famine are likely to occur in the future.
The aforementioned report also stressed that children are most at risk of food insecurity. According to the report, six of Nigeria’s 17 million food-insecure citizens, or children under the age of five, reside in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states. Severe malnutrition is associated with a high risk of death in children. The number of severely malnourished children is expected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to 2 million in 2023 in Bay states alone (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe).
FAO Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), working with the government and partners such as MSF and Alima, is investing in scaling up preventive feeding interventions while ensuring that vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition services. for life. He added, “The food security and nutrition situation across Nigeria is deeply worrying. I have visited nutrition stabilization centers full of children struggling to survive. We must act now to ensure that they and others get the life-saving support they need.”
Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s annual food inflation rate rose to 20.6% in June 2022 from 19.5% in May, driven by the cost of staples such as bread, cereals, potatoes, yams, meat, fish, etc. using a ‘cost of food basics’ analysis that compares the monthly minimum For recommended expenditure on food per adult and median wage earner in 107 countries, the UK’s Institute for Development Studies also placed Nigeria as the second poorest country in the world in terms of food affordability.
Other countries where staple food is less expensive include Syria, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Ghana, Indonesia, Algeria, Iran, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka which have been in turmoil over the past four months with its president forced to flee the country, after weeks of turmoil. Protesting the skyrocketing consumer prices. The minimum food intake recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for energy needs is based on 12-14 staples which together represent 2,100 calories per adult per day.
What can reduce the risk of severe hunger? There is an urgent need for financial support. In addition to financing, our agricultural and food systems need to be revitalized and transformed in order to, among other things, provide better nutrition. Increased efforts are required from all stakeholders to promote food sufficiency and enhance nutrition. In addition to feeding people, it is important to provide them with the nutrients they need to live a healthy life.
In addition, Nigeria deals with security issues, particularly in the Northeast and Central Belt regions. This had an effect on agriculture and agriculture in those areas as well, as not many people could grow or harvest crops. The high risk of hunger can be reduced if all these security issues are properly resolved.
Famine and hunger are also caused by the effects of climate change. Climate change is the term used to describe the long-term rise in atmospheric temperatures. How does climate change affect the availability of food? Floods and droughts caused by climate change are making it difficult to produce food. The local food industry can also be severely affected by erratic rainfall patterns. As a result, access to food is increasingly restricted and prices are higher, making it more likely that many people will go hungry.
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide, and is the main contributor to climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced, climate change will greatly exacerbate hunger and starvation, especially in the poorest parts of the world.
It is also important to remember that the first step in stopping the spread of severe food shortages is to start growing food where it is needed most. In rural areas where people deal with high levels of food insecurity, prevention of hunger and famine must begin there. Where food is most needed, it must be grown there, and animal survival must be prioritized. This can help stabilize and increase local food production in order to prevent starvation.
It is impossible to overstate how important local and backyard food production is to keeping families alive in remote rural areas. It is also impossible to overestimate the importance of preserving livestock. Also, just one glass of milk a day can make the difference between life and death.
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