Poverty Reduction in NigeriaThe West African country Nigeria has the fastest-growing population in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the Nigerian population is outpacing poverty reduction as the population grows and the economy declines. Essentially, the demand for jobs is much higher than the availability.

Therefore, the World Bank has projected that the number of Nigerians living below the national poverty line will increase by 13 million people by 2025.

Income Inequality in Nigeria

There are several reasons for the high poverty rates in Nigeria, one of which is income inequality. The average income in rural versus urban Nigeria is incredibly unbalanced. In the past, agriculture was a key export in Nigeria. However, this industry is no longer financially flourishing, leaving those in the rural farmlands susceptible to low income.

Nigeria struggles with various factors that contribute to food insecurity. The most dominant is poverty, along with climate-related challenges that amplify the effects and hardships of poverty, such as drought and flooding. As a result, millions of Nigerians in rural marginalized areas experience extreme malnutrition and chronic hunger.

Currently, 80% of exports from Nigeria are oil, which only represents 1% of national jobs. This contributes to the shocking statistic that four out of 10 Nigerians live in poverty.

The Nigerian government is working to implement reforms that can promote poverty reduction and aid civilians to have a better quality of life. One such reform is the elimination of fuel subsidies.

The Aftermath of Eradicating Fuel Subsidies

Despite the thriving fuel industry, subsidies on petroleum have caused problems in Nigeria for decades.

Nigeria first implemented its fuel subsidies policy in 1977. The Nigerian government enacted these restrictions to provide a cushion from the 1973 oil crisis. However, what was initially intended for six months has remained for twenty-four years. As a result, the policy did not ease the burden of fuel prices but rather bankrupted the government. Fuel subsidies are 15% of the federal budget, more than education and health combined.

In 2012, the Nigerian government announced its plan to eradicate fuel subsidies, causing an uproar and protests over the new policy. In June 2023, President Bola Tinubu told the nation that “the fuel subsidy is gone.” Fearing the inevitable spike in gasoline costs, hundreds of people fled to petrol stations with jerry cans to prepare for the future.

The transition period appears to have poorly affected the public. For example, the petroleum market price increased by 200%. However, the perpetuation of subsidies appeared to be unattainable. Its elimination could pave the way for other initiatives that aim to alleviate poverty. This includes a budget increase for public services, health, transport and education.

Although widely unpopular among citizens, terminating the subsidies could promote a unified exchange rate, reduce corruption and allocate a larger budget for investing in long-term sustainable reformations.

External Support in the Fight to End Poverty in Nigeria

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Food Clique support communities in Nigeria that are most affected by poverty. Food Clique promotes poverty reduction for affected people through donations that fund nutritious food and free school meals. Alongside fighting hunger, these programs also encourage attendance and productivity, promote physical strength and build disease resistance.

Food Clique provides sustainable solutions to food insecurity, alleviating poverty in Nigeria. It also bridges the gap of poverty by helping communities gain access to nutritious meals and promoting long-term solutions. This work is critical because Food Clique aims to build a more food-secure nation and thus reduce the effects of poverty.

The British Red Cross estimates that as of 2022, 19.5 million people in Nigeria do not have enough to eat. However, with the tireless efforts of Food Clique and other nonprofit organizations, there is hope for progress.

Looking Ahead

In summary, poverty reduction in Nigeria has been a slow and complex process, and only now have major reforms beginning to take effect within the government. The removal of fuel subsidies and subsequent inflation impacted the poorest Nigerians the most. In the long run, however, these reforms could create new jobs and allow the government to fund other sectors, such as education and health, to reduce the impact of poverty in Nigeria.

– April Plenderleith
Photo: Pixabay

Hunger Crisis in NigeriaNigeria, a multiethnic country with more than 200 million people, has one of the largest youth populations globally. However, severe malnutrition and starvation are prevalent due to hunger and famine. Food insecurity in Nigeria increases the risk of malnutrition, stunted growth and developmental problems in children. Even more, poor nutrition and lack of access to primary health care have led to higher rates of infectious diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that approximately 25 million Nigerians are experiencing a hunger epidemic. The ongoing conflict in northeastern Nigeria, alongside a population boom, has exceeded the capacity for food production and economic development. The northeast region of Nigeria relies on agriculture and subsistence farming. Nonetheless, they face difficulties in harvesting their crops due to several factors.

Climate Crisis

Severe climate conditions have negatively impacted Nigeria’s food supply chain. Nigeria experiences intense and erratic rainfall, which is a recurring problem. In 2022, flooding damaged approximately 676,000 acres of agricultural land, contributing to rising levels of hunger and malnutrition, per the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Food production and agriculture have declined due to flooding, landslides and soil erosion. With high food prices, the limited supply remains unaffordable for most individuals. Additionally, water pollution exacerbates the situation, posing a threat to the environment and the health of local populations.

Armed Conflict and Violence

In Nigeria’s northeast, security concerns have resulted in violence between farming communities and herders, causing significant disruptions to the local food supply. The conflict and drought have prevented many farmers from growing crops, making it challenging for Nigerians to make ends meet and further straining the economy.

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality is a contributing factor to food insecurity in Nigeria. Women lack access to necessary resources and services to provide food security for their families, increasing food insecurity. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), reducing gender disparities would lead to higher economic growth, more efficient economic operations and a more stable economic environment.


Poverty in Nigeria is primarily due to unemployment. The lack of job opportunities leaves many individuals without the means to support themselves and their families. Additionally, the deficient education system exacerbates the issue of the hunger epidemic threatening Nigerians.

Corruption at governmental levels has prevented investment in job creation and education initiatives, thereby worsening the poverty problem. This has resulted in stagnant economic growth and an increased income gap between the rich and the poor. The financial crisis has caused a decline in living standards for Nigerians.

Current Efforts and Solutions

Through its Nutrition & Health Programs, Action Against Hunger managed to reach 1.8 million people. Using its innovative program, “Porridge Moms,” homeless women and refugees learned how to prepare nutritious meals for their children, thereby preventing malnutrition. As part of the effort to prevent and treat malnutrition, approximately 822,000 pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children under 5 years of age got access to water, sanitation and hygiene programs.

The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) has been actively implementing an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) to prepare the country for natural hazards and climate risks. Furthermore, the ESMP has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental management and aimed to achieve greater ecological compliance.

As a result of the ESMP, agricultural lands previously degraded have been restored for agricultural purposes, leading to increased productivity and reduced hunger. Despite the negative impacts of climate change on farming land, vegetation and forests, the restoration process has led to the introduction of innovative employment methods.

Food vouchers and cash transfers are part of Save the Children’s support program to help families recover and settle. Several food system exchanges have been initiated by the Nigerian government in order to maintain weather information on a timely basis. Furthermore, the government aims to implement the Social Protection Law to identify and assist disaster victims.

What’s Next?

Initiatives that aid vulnerable populations improve market access and subsidize agriculture could accelerate progress in the fight against food insecurity in Nigeria. Additionally, promoting sustainable agricultural practices carry the potential to increase food production and reduce hunger.

– Simran Raghav
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Nigeria
Nigeria is currently facing a daunting challenge that impacts the lives of millions in the country: hunger. Hunger in Nigeria has been escalating in recent months for various reasons and it has received international attention.

The Scale of the Crisis

Hunger in Nigeria is an immense problem that is currently putting millions at risk in the country. Between the three northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, almost 4.5 million people are now at risk of hunger. Of that 4.5 million, more than 700,000 are at imminent risk of starving to death.

Economics and Food

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a critical contributing factor in the ongoing rise in hunger in Nigeria. Unemployment has skyrocketed in the country, as one-third of the population does not have a job. Additionally, 70% of Nigerians have lost at least one form of income because of the pandemic.

Food inflation has also skyrocketed, worsening the state of hunger. Food inflation reached a 15-year high in 2021, rising to 22.95% in March. Import restrictions on rice and rising fuel costs have both contributed to this inflation.

Overall inflation and poverty levels have been on the rise, further compounding the hunger crisis. Inflation in Nigeria is the highest in the region, and the World Bank predicts the 2021 Nigerian inflation to be 16.5%. The inflation prediction for the sub-Saharan Africa region, excluding Nigeria, is only 5.9%. In the past year, food price inflation alone has accounted for 70% of Nigeria’s inflation.

The economic fallout of the pandemic could put more than 11 million Nigerians in poverty by 2022. The effects of the pandemic created a dangerous mix of unemployment, increased poverty, increased overall inflation, increased food inflation and widespread loss of income.

Conflict and Hunger

Conflict in Nigeria has contributed to the current hunger crisis. The impact of conflict in Nigeria is especially apparent with food inflation. Food costs have risen due to conflict between farmers and herders in the agricultural sector, as well as the ongoing insurgency by the Boko Haram terrorist organization.

Further, the ongoing conflict has made the state of hunger in Nigeria even worse by displacing many Nigerians. The states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, which are at high risk of widespread hunger, have also seen mass displacement due to conflict. In recent years, 8.7 million people have experienced displacement in these states due to the violence that “non-state armed groups” instigated

These large numbers of displaced persons often move into host communities that are ill-suited to the task. Such communities end up under the tremendous strain, as they have insufficient supplies, including food, to serve their newly enlarged populations.

Armed conflicts that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it is complicating the addressing of this crisis. Estimates indicate that aid cannot reach more than 800,000 people who live in areas that non-state armed groups control.

Aid Efforts

International organizations are trying to address hunger in Nigeria. The U.N. and other international organizations have continued to provide food assistance in Nigeria thanks to a process called localization. This process involves international organizations partnering with local NGOs to assist those in need, which enables local people, who might understand more, to help with local problems.

This coalition of organizations has provided support to camps for internally displaced persons. For example, the World Food Programme (WFP) has given starving Nigerians money to purchase food. However, this assistance has had a limited scope, as some camps only offer food support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. All of these efforts to assist have not proven to be enough to address the crisis. 

Looking Ahead

Much work remains to address the current state of hunger in Nigeria. The U.N.-led coalition of organizations is attempting to reach more than 6 million Nigerians with humanitarian aid. However, this effort has received limited funding as it has only garnered 20% of the necessary funds.

To address this crisis, a significant amount of funding is necessary. The U.N. is calling for $250 million in food aid to meet Nigeria’s severe hunger situation.

The situation of hunger in Nigeria is in a state of crisis. Millions of Nigerians are at high risk of becoming food insecure, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starving to death. Conflict, widespread displacement and high food inflation all impact the hunger situation in Nigeria. While a coalition of organizations provides as much aid as possible to those at risk, these organizations need more support from the international community.

– Coulter Layden
Photo: Flickr

hunger in NigeriaYahabba Adam, 30, smiled in the Maiduguri city center in Nigeria. Her four children would eat that day. She searched the market, and the $47 (NGN 17,000) provided by the World Food Programme’s (WFP) cash assistance program filled her wallet and heart with hope. Adam is one of 5.1 million Nigerians who are food insecure and in need of assistance. Conflict in the Northeast has heightened food insecurity and hunger in Nigeria, with another 7.7 million people now in need of humanitarian assistance.

The Boko Haram Insurgency and Crisis in the Northeast

In northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram insurgency attacks and other conflicts have displaced two million people. With assistance from Benin, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the Nigerian military has expelled the group from several northeastern provinces. Boko Haram still holds control over villages and other small territories. It continues to launch deadly attacks, often against women and children.

These attacks have contributed to a decline in agricultural production through the destruction of productive equipment and the displacement of farmers. In 2017, two senior politicians in Nigeria’s Borno state, which is the epicenter of the insurgency, sent a message to Boko Haram. Kashim Shettima and Olusegun Obasanjo donated 36 metric tons of maize, cowpea and rice seed and hundreds of new tractors to farmers. The officials saw an opportunity for the region to move forward in agriculture despite the conflict.

The northeast region of the country has a history of chronic food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is now in what the Famine Early Warning System Network describes as the crisis or emergency stages of acute food insecurity. Almost three million people in the region are food insecure, according to the WFP.

In November 2019, Cadre Harmonisé, a regional group that aims to diminish hunger in Nigeria, released a monthly report. It estimated that 2.6 million people in the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states were severely food insecure. Without continued humanitarian support, the report projected the number would rise to 3.6 million by mid-2020.

COVID-19 Impact

There have been 35,454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria and 772 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The pandemic is affecting every aspect of Nigeria’s economy.

“Countries like Nigeria are large food importers but are now being doubly hit – by COVID-19 and by plunging oil prices, the country’s main source of revenue, decimating the government’s budget and making food and other imports even more expensive,” said Julie Howard, a senior adviser on global food security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 

COVID-19 is threatening the already fragile state of hunger in Nigeria. Citizens across the country are going against pandemic regulations to sell small items or beg for food on the streets. In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, the federal government and humanitarian organizations distribute free food to people whose food supply has been cut off by pandemic safety measures. However, many risk stampedes to get the food and some leave empty-handed. 

“We were scrambling for food when my sister with a young baby on her back was pushed away, and she had to give up,” said Folashade Samuel, a resident of the Lagos slums. “The situation is very, very tough. It is very dangerous to scramble for food because you can fall and get trampled on.”

Additionally, lockdowns and border closures within the nation pose a danger to the agricultural sector, which forms the base of the Nigerian economy. For most Nigerians, agriculture serves as the primary source of livelihood, with the sector employing 36.5% of the entire labor force. More than 30 million naira (about $77,500) had been lost as of May 2020 in the yam markets alone because of the pandemic lockdowns.

In order to combat the pandemic’s adverse effects on agriculture, the Nigerian government created a task force. This task force is creating ID cards to allow agricultural workers to move freely. The agriculture ministry and central bank are working to provide support through locally produced fertilizers and financial expansion for farmers.

What is Being Done?

This June, the Nigerian government launched a seed support initiative in partnership with a group of agricultural research institutes and programs. The initiative worked to deliver improved seeds to farmers in 13 states in order to lessen the harmful impact of the pandemic on hunger in Nigeria.

In Adam’s home city, Maiduguri, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) received presidential clearance to continue emergency operations, which include delivering food. The WFP manages the UNHAS. While its operations are limited, this humanitarian aid provides support similar to the $47 Adam carried that day in the market.

Along with managing UNHAS, the WFP distributed food and cash assistance to 1.2 million Nigerians in 2017 and 2018. During the pandemic, the WFP has continued its outreach and efforts to curb hunger in Nigeria, assisting 632,500 people with food and nutritional needs. Because schools often provide a much-needed source of food for children, the WFP is also supporting the government in adjusting the national home-grown school feeding programme to reach nine million children while schools are closed.

Many people in Nigeria face hunger and are in need of help. The Boko Haram Insurgency and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the problem of food insecurity in the country. As a result, the government and outside organizations are stepping in to help those in need and work to decrease hunger in Nigeria. 

– Olivia du Bois
Photo: Flickr

NigeriaNigeria is one of many food-deficient countries in Africa, and its alarming hunger statistics are tied with high levels of conflict that have plagued the region surrounding Nigeria for years. A food crisis such as Nigeria’s causes distressing levels of stunting in children and is correlated with high rates of poverty. The following are the top 10 facts about hunger in Nigeria.

10 Eye-Opening Facts About Hunger in Nigeria

  1. One-third of children under five are stunted. This statistic is particularly concerning because it is twice the rate of Thailand and three times the rate of Tunisia. Stunting in children is a common symptom of undernourishment and can only be alleviated with a steady supply of adequate food.
  2. The insurgency in the country has led to a large number of displaced people without access to food. The reign of the extremist group, Boko Haram, has left 8.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Nigeria.
  3. On top of the rates of displacement, 5.1 million Nigerians are malnourished. Being on the move makes food sources even less reliable. Countries with high rates of political conflict typically have hunger issues that coincide.
  4. The amount of food insecure households is highest in the rural region of Borno in Nigeria. In Borno State, 64.2 percent of households are food insecure. In late July of 2017, the government of Nigeria declared a state of food and nutrition emergency in Borno.
  5. In the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe there were 400,000 children under 5 at risk of severe acute malnutrition in 2016. Approximately 244,000 of these cases are in Borno alone. Food insecurity especially affects children as they are dependent on nourishment for growth and development.
  6. Action Against Hunger (AAH) is active in Nigeria and has completed an assessment of risk levels in the state of Borno. AAH found levels of global acute malnutrition at 28 percent and severe malnutrition at 8 percent in Borno. These levels are especially alarming because both are almost double the international emergency threshold.
  7. Households headed by females are more inclined to have high rates of food insecurity. In the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, 55 percent of female-headed households are food insecure. Women in low-income countries often have less opportunity to gain employment that would allow them to feed their families, leading to increased levels of food deficiency.
  8. Action Against Hunger has provided clinics to aid with hunger in Nigeria. These clinics provide assistance for malnourished children, nursing mothers and pregnant women. Establishments like these save countless lives every year.
  9. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been active in fighting hunger in Nigeria. In 2017, the ICRC reached over 1 million Nigerians and provided relief and livelihood training and assistance. They also provided 450,000 people in the north-east and Middle Belt regions with food for three months.
  10. Of the 17 million people living in regions affected by Boko Haram, 11 million are in need of humanitarian aid, food, water and shelter. These numbers delineate the effects of political strife on low-income countries. Dangerous and unreliable living conditions are not conducive to access to an adequate food supply.

Fighting Food Insecurity

Levels of hunger in Nigeria are alarming, but the work of organizations like AAF and ICRC have been able to begin the fight against food insecurity. Without the aid of humanitarian workers, a higher number of lives would be lost each year to malnourishment and hunger.

– Amelia Merchant

Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in NigeriaThe 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.

Continued Violence

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.

Humanitarian Aid

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
Photo: Flickr