IRC report says 32 million people to suffer severe food insecurity

A disturbing report from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its partners has shown that approximately 16 per cent of Nigerians, that is, 32 million people will grapple with severe food insecurity between June and August 2024.

Reports say the study signals an escalating crisis in hunger and deteriorating living conditions not only in Nigeria, but, across West and Central Africa.

The report indicates an increase from last year’s figures.

The 2024 projection shows a concerning rise in food insecurity during what is traditionally known as the lean season.

The report read, “Looking ahead, the projected outlook for the period June-August 2024 appears even more severe: nearly 52 million people across the 17 analyzed countries are anticipated to face phases 3 to 5 during the lean season of June-August. This translates to 12% of the analyzed population struggling to meet their basic food and nutrition requirements.

The reports say “These countries include Mauritania (656 652, 14%), Burkina Faso (2 734 196, 12%), Niger (3 436,892, 13%), Chad (3,364,453, 20%), Sierra Leone (1,569,895, 20%), and Nigeria (31,758,164, 16%).”

A staggering 52 million people across the region are however expected to face acute hunger during this period, constituting about 12% of the population analyzed.

For Nigeria specifically, the figures are even more dire, with an estimated 32 million people facing crisis-level or emergency food insecurity conditions.

The situation is particularly critical in the northern states of Sokoto and Zamfara, where over 15% of children are reported to be suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.

The report also highlights that several other countries within the region are expected to suffer significant food security challenges.

These include Chad, where 20% of the population could face severe food shortages, and Sierra Leone, which shows similar percentages. Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger are also on the list of nations facing daunting food security challenges.

The IRC has attributed the rising severity of food insecurity across the Sahelian belt to a combination of factors, including increased insecurity, adverse effects of climate change, and deteriorating macroeconomic conditions marked by high inflation rates.

In January 2024, the average inflation rate in the region was recorded at 21%, up from 18% in the previous year. Sierra Leone, in particular, has experienced a dramatic increase, with inflation rates soaring to 54%.

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