At least 71 million Nigerians are currently living in extreme poverty, according to the World poverty clock 2023.
Tonye Cole, 2023 governorship candidate in Rivers State quoted this data at a National Symposium on Zero Hunger and launch of the Zero Hunger Report by T200 foundation in Abuja. He decried that Nigeria has the awful distinction of being the world capital of poverty, with a total of 133 million people classed as multidimensionally poor according to National Bureau of Statistics data.
Globally, about 828 million people will wake up every day having no idea when or where their next meal will come from, and many will go to bed that day without eating anything, according to a 2021 UN report. The UN defines hunger as “the periods when people experience severe food insecurity- that they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, access to food, or other resources.
Cole, explained that hunger is intertwined with issues such as poverty, inequality, conflict, climate change, gender discrimination, weak governments, and health systems, and inevitably corruption, but are not insurmountable.
He noted that China was able to do with 800 million extremely poor people over a 40-year period,. and the lesson for Nigeria and other developing nations grappling with high rates of extreme poverty is that eradication is attainable.
“It is instructive that China accomplished this using a two-pronged method. The first strategic pillar, according to the World Bank study, was to implement a broad-based economic transformation to create new economic possibilities and boost average incomes. The second strategic pillar entailed providing targeted assistance for poverty alleviation,” he said.
“These factors that drive extreme poverty and, inevitably, hunger are similar to what exists in Nigeria today, which means that to meet the SDG 2 target of zero hunger through poverty eradication, Nigeria must also design a simple, implementable, and sustainable model and stick to it over time.”
According to the T200 Foundation hunger report, Nigeria has a Global Hunger Index score of 27.9, which falls into the serious hunger category. States with the highest index scores are Yobe and Sokoto, while states with the lowest scores are Lagos, Delta and Ogun.
Yobe has a score of 44.2, with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, which is 27.4 percent. This is more than twice the national average of 12.9 percent. Yobe also has the highest child-wasting rate of 22.5 percent, which is almost three times the national average of 7.9 percent.
Sokoto had a score of 42.1 with a high prevalence of undernourishment, which is 24.4 percent. The child wasting rate in Sokoto is 18.4 percent. Other states with high hunger index scores include Zamfara (37.2), Kebbi (34.5), and Jigawa (33.9). These states also have high rates of undernourishment and child wasting.
The report relied on data collected from primary and secondary sources. The survey relied on Key Informant Interviews for its primary data collection across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The reports recommends that there should be clearly articulated zero hunger policies at all levels of government, and such policies should he measurable, impactful and time-specific.
Emmanuel Osadebay, Executive Director T200 Foundation, said to tackle hunger in Nigeria, all stakeholders must be involved.