BusinessDay

Families struggle to cope as cost of living surges

With inflation running at the highest rate in 17 years and food inflation at 14-month high, hitting 23.12 percent in August, Nigerians are finding support from family members to cope with rising cost of living.

“It has been tough for us. My brother has been the one supporting my family with the little he can amid surging prices,” said Ronke Ademola, a trader at Mile 12 Market.

“With his support and that of my sister-in-law in the United States (US), my family is able to meet our essential needs,” she Ademola added.

Real wages, which reflect the power of employee’s pay after accounting for inflation, have fallen in Nigeria by 100 percent, thus exposing Nigerians to increasing pressures and forcing them to make hard choices as prices of goods and services continue to rise.

For lower-income households with little or no cash cushion, they are making harder choices such as what to buy or not, experts say.

“We have to move into my husband’s family house as our income can no longer sustain our daily expenses as the price of everything continues to surge,” said Adeyinka Abimbola, a 37-year-old teacher.

“We no longer worry about house rent and feeding as my in-laws are retired civil servants and they have been supportive of us since we moved in,” she said.

Households and businesses have been treading water for decades – weighed down by dwindling income and rising prices – but the spike in inflation is sending more than a ripple of frustrations among Nigerians.

Globally, countries are facing rising energy and food costs, largely driven by the Russia-Ukraine war. But in Nigeria, worsening insecurity and climate change have also reduced food production, adding to upward price pressure and compounding the problem for families.

“We can’t even feed properly. If not for my siblings that have been supportive of me and my family, I wonder what would have befallen us. They are supporting us with school fees that have doubled in the last year,” Michael Odundo, a painter said.

“My business has been struggling as people no longer want to paint their houses because they are prioritising their spending,” he said, noting that he is planning to change his business but lack of finance has made it difficult.

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About 90.4 million Nigeria’s population are food insecure, even as malnutrition rates in most northern states have more than doubled, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Over 105 million Nigerians still live in extreme poverty, according to data from the World Poverty Clock of the Brookings Institute. The World Bank recently projected that Nigeria’s accelerating inflation will push an additional 7 million into poverty by the end of 2022 in its report ‘The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual.’

While it would appear that the economy has improved, culminating in a 3.54 percent growth in the second quarter of 2022, most of it is elusive. A vast majority of Nigerians have not been able to reduce poverty or secure decent jobs to be able to sustain their families.