Nigeria is among the nine countries expected to see its hunger levels worsening throughout the year, according to the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI).
Apart from Africa’s biggest economy, the Index, a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels highlighted Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, Burkina Faso and Mali as the other countries.
“Many countries are experiencing severe hunger in 2023, with the situation expected to worsen throughout the year. Though circumstances in 2023 are not yet captured by the data in this year’s GHI scores, early warning resources indicate that many areas of the world are in crisis,” the index report said.
It said while conflict and climate change are key drivers of these crises, economic downturns are an even more pervasive factor.
“Nigeria ranks 109th out of the 125 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2023 GHI scores. With a score of 28.3 in the Index, Nigeria has a level of hunger that is serious.”
According to the United Nations, food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to food, which diminishes dietary quality, disrupts normal eating patterns, and can have negative consequences for nutrition, health and well-being.
And Nigeria’s food inflation has been accelerating since August 2019 and now at a faster pace since the country floated the naira and removed petrol subsidy amid high malnutrition and hunger levels in Africa’s most populous country.
Food inflation, which constitutes 50 percent of the inflation rate, rose to 30.64 percent in September, the highest in 18 years, from 29.34 percent in August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics
The rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis was caused by increases in prices of oil and fat, bread and cereals, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, fruit, meat, vegetables and milk, cheese, and eggs.
The World Bank, in its recent food security update, listed Nigeria among the countries to face catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2023.
According to the update released on June 29, acute food insecurity is expected to worsen in Nigeria, where 24.8 million people are projected to be acutely food insecure between June and August 2023, including 1.1 million people in emergency (IPC Phase 4) conditions.
“Hunger and malnutrition are worsening and currently at an alarming rate. Most households now skip meals to survive,” Obi, who is also a lecturer at the Department of Soil Science, University of Uyo, said.
Ayodeji Ebo, managing director/chief business officer at Optimus by Afrinvest Limited, said there are expectations that the pressures on inflation to persist, especially on the food component of the headline index
“While September marks the commencement of the harvest season, the continued closure of the Niger border, insufficient rainfall in July and August, potential flooding warnings across 32 states, including the FCT, and the likely increase in petrol prices will push food inflation higher in the coming months,” he added.