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UN scales up emergency response to tackle food insecurity in north-east Nigeria

The United Nations has allocated US$20mn from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF) to urgently ramp up the humanitarian response to the worsening food security and nutrition crisis in Northeast Nigeria

In support of government efforts, some US$9mn in CERF funding and a complementary US$11mn NHF allocation will go towards a coordinated multi-sectoral response aimed at preventing a deterioration to famine or famine-like conditions. 

Almost 700,000 children under five are likely to suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states in 2023. More than half a million people in the BAY states are also projected to face emergency levels of food insecurity.

According to the March 2023 Cadre Harmonisé analysis, the peak of the lean season starts from June and extends till August. 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.

"Government, donors and the international community must make urgent funding available to protect the lives and future of vulnerable children in north-east Nigeria," warned Matthias Schmale, humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria.

The bulk of the CERF allocation, US$6mn, 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. Some US$2mn will go to the UN Children's Fund for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition (including providing ready-to-eat therapeutic food and Tom Brown solutions (a nutrient-rich locally produced supplementary food). Another US$1mn will go to the Food and Agriculture Organisation for seeds, tools and other agricultural livelihood support to boost local production of nutritious foods to build resilience.

Most of the NHF funding will go towards improving access to clean water and sanitation hygiene, and nutrition. The rest of the funding will go to healthcare, and to protection services with a focus on gender-based violence, child protection and mine action. The NHF aims to allocate 50% of funding to eligible national partners on the frontlines.

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.