25m Nigerians risk hunger in 2023, UNICEF warns

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday warned that 25 million Nigerians risk severe hunger in 2023 if action is not taken.

“Nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August 2023 (lean season) if urgent action is not taken, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a Government led and UN-supported food and nutrition analysis carried out twice a year,” the UN agency said in a statement late Monday.

According to the agency, this is a rise from the 17m persons earlier projected to face food insecurity in the country.

Conflicts, climate change, inflation, and rising food prices are the key drivers, it said.

“Children are the most vulnerable to food insecurity. Approximately 6 of the 17 million food-insecure Nigerians today are children under 5 living in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Zamfara states,” the statement further read.

“There is a serious risk of mortality among children attributed to acute malnutrition. In the BAY states alone, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition is expected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to 2 million in 2023.”

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While commenting on the development, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria Mr. Matthias Schmale, said it is “deeply concerning”.

“The food security and nutrition situation across Nigeria is deeply concerning,” UNICEF quoted him as saying.

“I have visited nutrition stabilization centres filled with children who are fighting to stay alive. We must act now to ensure they and others get the lifesaving support they need.”

It, therefore, called on the Nigerian governor, donor agencies, and other key stakeholders to take urgent steps to mitigate the situation.

“The United Nations is calling on the Government of Nigeria, the donor community, and public and private stakeholders to urgently commit resources and implement mitigation measures to save lives and prevent a potentially catastrophic food security and nutrition situation. Support for vulnerable families across the country is needed today, not tomorrow,” the agency said.

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