Prolonged conflict perpetuated by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria has spurred massive displacement and undermined food security. As of late 2017, the insurgency had displaced more than 1.6 million people within the nation and forced over 206,000 Nigerians to flee into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, according to the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
A recent Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis—a tool used in West Africa for the classification and quantification of food insecurity—projected that nearly 3.7 million people in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states will likely face Crisis (Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season between June and August 2018, the period of the year when food is scarcest.
The USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respond to the urgent food needs of approximately 800,000 people by distributing locally purchased food, targeted cash transfers and food vouchers in Borno and Yobe states. This in-kind and market-based assistance is increasing household access to food while bolstering dietary diversity and fostering the recovery of local economies.
Through its partner the UN World Food Program (WFP), FFP provides market-based food assistance as well as in-kind food sourced from U.S., Nigerian and regional stocks to food-insecure Nigerian populations. FFP also enables WFP to furnish fortified supplementary food to children and pregnant and lactating women to prevent acute malnutrition. With support from FFP, WFP has reached approximately 1 million Nigerians per month with emergency food assistance since December 2016.
FFP’s partners conduct complementary nutrition programming that helps families use locally available foods to meet nutritional requirements. Activities include nutrition screenings and referrals, cooking demonstrations and infant and young child feeding counseling sessions. In collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), FFP also provides in-kind, ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Despite favorable harvests in the rest of Nigeria, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) expects that crop production in the northeast will be significantly below average in 2017 as the violence has curtailed farmers’ abilities to access and cultivate their fields. The conflict has also disrupted normal income-generating activities, and elevated staple food prices are limiting access to market supplies. FEWS NET reports that many vulnerable households in the region remain heavily reliant on emergency food assistance to meet their basic needs and will continue to experience Crisis (IPC 3) or Emergency (IPC 4) levels of acute food insecurity through May 2018. Households in areas inaccessible by relief actors will face an elevated risk of Famine (IPC 5) through mid-2018, according to FEWS NET.