The number of people who experience food insecurity in Nigeria is rising. Of Nigeria’s population of more than 160 million people, the number of undernourished people has increased from 10 million in 2010 to almost 13 million in 2012 and has been growing since.
Agriculture is the country’s main source of income, making up a staggering 40 percent of the country’s GDP. Yet, despite this, Nigeria is number 40 out of 79 on the Global Hunger Index. Though the country has grown its GDP from the six percent it was in 2008 to 8.4 percent in 2010, it remains that over 80 percent of the rural population in Nigeria live below the poverty line.
The Nigerian Government and Internal Programs
There have been various programs created by the country’s numerous governments to end food insecurity in Nigeria. Such programs are:
- Operation Feed the Nation;
- Green Revolution;
- Lower River Basin Development Authorities;
- National Agricultural and Land Development Authority (NALDA); and the
- Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI).
Unfortunately, these programs have all had dismal performances, and have all individually hindered – some have even contributed – to low agricultural and food production in Nigeria.
Because the government has consistently changed in Nigeria, there have been major policy changes regarding food and agricultural policies. These changes have caused major delays and have hindered agricultural production and distribution. Every new government that has come to power has abandoned the previous one’s agricultural policies. This has created mass instability in production and has blocked the progression towards ending hunger.
Gender is a Factor
Unsurprisingly, gender inequality in Nigeria can also be blamed as a major factor for the food insecurity in Nigeria. The women of Nigeria make up the majority of agricultural workers, though they are often underpaid if paid at all. Nigerian women have less and limited access to agricultural assets like inputs and service than their male counterparts. It is believed by analysts, that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase their crop production by 20-30 percent.
The major cause, however, for much of the food insufficiency in Nigeria is the conflict and violence which has been largely due to ethnic and religious tensions in the northeast of the country. As of March 2018, the number of internally displaced persons has grown significantly. The displacement of people in Nigeria has increased to the concern of food insecurity. Over 650,000 people in the Borno State, alone, are at extreme, limited access to agricultural land and labor opportunities, and are thus, heavily dependent on assistance.
As seen in the Borno State, violence and displacement of people disrupts agricultural production and makes people dependent on emergency food assistance. The number of displaced persons is rising: as of April 2018, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was responsible for displacing more than 1.7 million people throughout Nigeria. Moreover, the summer months are the hardest for crops to grow in Nigeria. It is estimated that in the months of June through August of 2018, over 3 million people throughout the Northeast of Nigeria will face a food insufficiency crisis or worse.
International assistance is there. For instance, the USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has provided emergency food assistance in Nigeria since 2015. The FFP works with non-governmental organizations to provide and distribute locally-purchased food, food vouchers, and cash transfers to over 800,000 people in dire need. Moreover, merged efforts between the FFP and the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) ensure that supplementary food supplies reach children and pregnant and lactating women to prevent acute malnutrition. Per month, this pairing of the FFP and WFP has helped provide over 1 million Nigerians with food since December 2016.
Almost all of the factors which create and add to the food insufficiency in Nigeria are man-made problems. Though Nigeria is not a poor country, its developmental management has been poor. It is believed that alongside the aid of international organizations like the FTP and the WTP, these problems need to be individually and properly addressed. If done so, then solutions will become apparent, and the problem of food insufficiency in Nigeria will quickly be resolved.
– Isabella Agostini