Over five million people in north-east Nigeria are suffering from starvation, following Boko Haram insurgency and rising inflation.
That is according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The body has warned that the people are facing acute food insecurity.
The UN agriculture agency has appealed for 25 million dollars through May 2017 to support irrigated vegetable production and micro-gardening in the dry season, as well as rebuild livestock systems.
In a situation update, FAO said the urgently needed funds would tackle food insecurity among returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities.
In addition, the agency is seeking funds now to provide critical agricultural inputs to farmers in time for the 2017 main rainy season.
“We must act now to rapidly restore food security and combat severe hunger and malnutrition,” FAO said in the update.
It noted that inflationary pressures in the national economy have pushed the prices of staple food crops extremely high across the three northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
According to it, prices of food crops are expected to rise further, requiring “immediate intervention.”
In addition, FAO reported that the security remained volatile, particularly in Borno, as Boko Haram activities continued to impact the security situation in some areas.
“In Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, there are currently nine Local Government Areas (LGAs) categorised as ‘restricted’.
“Also, 27 LGAs are categorised as having ‘limited’ access due to a high level of insurgent activity,” FAO said.
In a related development, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (October 2016) showed for the first time since August 2015, a total number of IDPs below two million.
The UN agency said 97 per cent of the IDPs declared that their displacement was due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“One-quarter of these was displaced in 2016, with the majority displaced in 2014. Almost half of those surveyed noted food as their biggest unmet need.
“Since August 2015, a total of 958,549 returnees from within and outside Nigeria have been recorded, with an increase of about 48,000 returnees since August 2016.
“This further emphasised the need for increased attention towards sustainable agricultural livelihoods support to the returnee process,” IOM said.