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Nigeria faces catastrophic food insecurity on accelerating inflation

Nigeria’s facing food insecurity rises 133% as poverty deepens

Nigeria has been listed among countries to face catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2023, according to the World Bank food security update.

According to the update released June 29, acute food insecurity is expected to worsen in Nigeria, where 24.8 million people are already projected to be acutely food insecure between June and August 2023, including 1.1 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) conditions.

The combined impact of a complex security crisis, weak macroeconomic conditions, and multiple natural hazards are driving food insecurity trends in Nigeria, the bank said in its analysis.

Also, domestic food inflation remains high in low and middle-income countries such as Nigeria as well as high-income countries. On a year-on-year basis, maize, wheat, and rice prices are 21 percent, 4 percent, and 2 percent higher, respectively, than in January 2021 globally.

In Nigeria, food inflation was at 20.6 percent in June 2022 and increased to 25.25 percent in June 2023.

While hunger levels have risen sharply around the world, the World Bank analysis of the Food and Agriculture Organisation data and a model that leverages the IMF World Economic Outlook, projections for the future outlook of global hunger suggest that hunger will persist.

Additional devastating effects from extreme weather events and conflict are likely to drive many countries into crisis, the global bank said, noting that this year, as many as 1 billion people, globally have had severe difficulty obtaining food and have had to skip meals as a result.

The World Bank noted that the staggering increase of approximately 330 million people since 2015 is roughly the equivalent of the population of the United States, the third-most-populous country in the world.

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And after a decade of consistent development gains, global hunger has increased sharply in recent years. It is likely that the number of severely food-insecure individuals will have increased by more than 220 million between 2019 and the end of 2023, primarily fueled by conflict, climate change, and economic shocks worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the food security update.

Another emerging issue that the bank highlighted is the most recent Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates for 2022 which indicate that the World Health Assembly and SDG2 targets for 2030 are moving further out of reach, and the effects of climate change, with impacts on food and nutrition security, are threatening progress on reducing malnutrition.

The global bank in its analysis found that progress toward reducing child stunting, which threatens the health and development of millions of children around the world, has stalled.

The new joint child malnutrition estimates reveal that 148.1 million children under five were stunted in 2022, which is equivalent to one in five children in this age group worldwide.

Over the past five years, global stunting rates have plateaued, drifting further away from the trajectory required to reduce stunting rates by 50 percent by 2030, the updated report said.

World Bank noted that urgent action is crucial to combat all forms of malnutrition, especially climate-smart action. Without this, it said gaps between trajectories and Sustainable Development Goals will continue to widen.

It recommends that strategies that include expanding high-impact interventions, fiscal policies, marketing regulations, and labelling of unhealthy foods should be considered to address under-nutrition and obesity simultaneously.