African Press Association

Nigeria’s collapse from breadbasket to basketcurse

Nigerian children starving

from AHMED OBAFEMI in Maiduguri, Nigeria
MAIDUGURI, (CAJ News) – THE Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has bemoaned the recession of Nigeria, from an exemplary country in the attainment of global goals to end hunger, to a nation where millions are at risk of famine.

Director-General of FAO, José Graziano Da Silva, ahead of his visit to the terror-afflicted country on Friday, noted the collapse had been drastic in
the last 15 years, largely because of the Boko Haram insurgency that has led to a failure to embark on farming.

“In the two decades before 2015, West Africa made notable strides in reducing hunger, reducing the number of hungry people by more than 60
percent, well ahead of its Millennium Development Goal pledge,” Da Silva said.

“Yet today in Nigeria – one of the region’s star performers in that period – we now see severe hunger increasingly quickly and widely in northeastern
regions where civil conflict is uprooting people and preventing farmers from growing crops.”

He said there was a growing risk that the impressive gains made recently would be reversed.

“We cannot let so much effort turn out to have been in vain,” said Da Silva.

The FAO executive decried the response by the global community to the crisis pummeling the West African country, which has the largest population in the continent with an estimated 186 million people.

“So far, the inadequate attention and inadequate responses have only made those challenges bigger,” said Da Silva.

“I am visiting the region of the Lake Chad Basin at this very particular moment to raise awareness of just how urgently we must strengthen our
response to the challenges there.”

The Lake Chad Basin crisis, encompassing parts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is currently one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the
world, with 11 million people in need of assistance.

Among them, 6,9 million people are severely food insecure, as well as 2,5 million displaced, which is second largest displacement crisis in the world.

The crisis, while catalyzed by conflict, is multidimensional and encompasses the security, humanitarian, climate change and economic issues that local populations in the Sahel region have long been facing.

FAO is enacting a three-year response strategy (2017 – 2019) to mitigate the impact of the crisis and bolster the resilience and food security of Lake Chad Basin communities affected by conflict.

Da Silva said FAO was striving to make its contribution to a historical change toward progress.

“Peace and security are needed, and enhancing the resilience of vulnerable populations in the Lake Chad Basin can help bring that about and will be
essential to sustaining it in the future.”

– CAJ News