Mary Adeniyi is a 48-year-old widow and a mother of four. She works as a storekeeper at a factory in Ikeja. Since the demise of her husband five years ago, Adeniyi has been taking care of the children all by herself.
The accelerating inflation in Africa’s biggest economy has made it a daily struggle for Adeniyi to get enough food for herself and her children as prices of goods continue to surge.
“We now feed twice daily. I can no longer afford to feed my children three times a day. My income can no longer sustain us again as prices of everything keep surging daily,” she says.
“My rent and cost of living have doubled in the past months and my salary is still the same. How do I survive?” she asks.
Ronke Raji, a mother of two and stylist at Ketu Market, Lagos says she is struggling to survive the accelerating inflation as her income has continued to decline.
“I can’t even afford to eat properly again as food prices continue to surge. Once I can feed my children twice daily I am satisfied,” she says.
“People are trying to cut down on their costs so they can survive the difficult moment. As part of the cost measures, ladies are wearing wigs now instead of making their hair since it is cheaper to maintain. This is taking jobs away from us,” she explains.
“I hardly make up to N1,000 now daily unlike before I make between N7,000 and N10,000 daily. As a result of this my family is struggling to feed daily,” she explains. “My family depends on my income for survival.”
The situation isn’t different for Susanne Mbok, a Point of Sale Operator (PoS) and a single mother. She struggles daily to feed herself and her four years old son.
“Bread has become a big man’s food for me and my son. A loaf is N1,200 and we finish it in one meal and with a little over that amount I cook our two square meals a day, I struggle to give my son lunch at school,” she says.
“Food is costly now and I cannot afford varieties, especially after paying rent and my son’s school fees, so we eat just twice a day, sometimes we eat the same food in the morning and night,” she adds.
Like Adeniyi, Oladenro, and Mbok, most Nigerians are struggling to get enough food for their families owing to accelerating inflation and dwindling income that is eroding purchasing power.
Nigeria’s inflation at 22.22 percent in April is far outpacing wage growth, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Food prices are up 150 percent, and transportation costs have almost doubled respectively year-on-year, according to BusinessDay’s market checks.
With food inflation hitting 24.61 percent, the key driver of Nigeria’s core inflation as over 90 percent of the country’s working population spends 60 percent of their income on food and related expenses, analysts say.
The surge in inflation led to a 12 percent increase in household consumption expenditure to N27.3 trillion in the first half of 2022, the highest in five years, from N24.3 trillion in the corresponding period of 2021, according to NBS.
The situation has made many Nigerians poorer than they were in 2021, with 63 percent of the population (133 million) suffering from multidimensional poverty.
“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 fallen on us. They are supporting us with school fees that have doubled in the last year,” Michael Odundo, a painter says.
“My business has been struggling as people no longer want to paint their houses because they are prioritizing their spending,” he says, noting that he is planning to change his business but lack of finance has made it difficult.
Cherry Christe, a migration consultant, notes that the cost of living is rising at a faster pace in the country, and wage/income has remained stagnant, noting that the situation is worse for daily earners.
“The salary in Nigeria has remained the same but food prices are almost more than a huge percentage of people earn.”
Paul Purity, a hair vendor said “For the past three to four years, salary has been constant, and prices of food and other items have increased by about 300 to 400 percent. It’s frustrating and depressing.”
The situation of households is putting balanced diet is being put out of reach for many Nigerians, especially low-income earners.
“I can’t afford to give my children an egg per day anymore despite knowing the importance of their development because it has become so expensive,” Moji Adeleke, a teacher and a mother of four says.
“Also, beans which are a substitute for protein for poor Nigerians are no longer affordable. A derica tin that was sold for N350 last year is now being sold for N500,” she adds.
Beans and eggs are economically important agricultural products that serve as the cheapest means of protein for a majority in Africa’s most populous nation.
Currently, Nigeria lags behind its peers in terms of per capita protein consumption owing to its high rate of low-income earners, poor nutritional knowledge, and high cost of protein-rich foods, experts say.
The country’s per capita daily protein intake is estimated to be 45.4g as against the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) minimum of 53.8g.
With beans and eggs currently eluding many Nigerian households owing to the continuous rise in prices, the country’s per capita protein intake gap will further widen and the number of malnourished persons will increase.
In a 2022 combined report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Food Programme, and the United Nations, Nigeria is listed among five other countries as the ‘hotspot of global hunger’ – where people are facing catastrophic levels of hunger.
At least 17 million Nigerian children are undernourished; stunted and/or wasted, giving Nigeria the highest burden of malnutrition in Africa and the second highest in the world. 43.6 percent of children in Nigeria have stunted growth, according to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report.
Wasting, a reflection of acute malnutrition, affects approximately 18 percent of children under 5 years old in Nigeria, which, according to WHO standards, is a very high public health concern.