FAO decries high rate of malnutrition in north-east Nigeria

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• Promises to assist Nigeria end hunger, promote sustainable agric

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Nigeria, Ms Louise Setshwaelo has disclosed that rate of malnutrition in the Northeastern Nigeria is estimated at 12 per cent as compared to 8 per cent national average at a workshop titled: “The food and nutrition insecurity analysis in eight Northern states in Nigeria.“ recently in Abuja.
Setshwaelo who said that the emergencies continue to exacerbate the prevailing food security situation such as recent flooding in Bauchi and Adamawa states, which damaged farmlands and infrastructure, pointed out that a total number of 1, 418, 180 are moderate and severe food insecure from the evaluation, which is assessing the hunger situation corresponding to the highest levels of food insecurity in those states.
She said the security situation in the north-east called for urgent humanitarian assistance to citizens in that area and the middle belt and recalled how Adamawa, Borno and Yobe had been facing violent insurgent activities since 2010, stressing that hundreds of people were killed in 2015 alone.
The FAO Country Representattive stated that over 2.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) in Northern Nigeria which covers 7 states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, and Nassarawa as well as the FCT, adding that the latest IDPs population in the three most affected states shows 117, 729; 195, 918 and 1,650, 799 in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno respectively.
Setshwaelo who said that to secure survival, most of the households are relying heavily on agricultural-related labour income in relatively peaceful areas, where cultivation is taking place, pointed out that the households are adopting very damaging coping strategies such as sales of productive assets, selling of livestock, consuming grain reserves and seedling and indebtedness.
She bemoaned that households are, therefore, experiencing the worst food security situation in seven local government councils in Adamawa, which experts described as disastrous, adding that livestock herders in the North-east remained largely displaced and forcing pastoralists to adopt negative coping strategies that compromise the viability of their livelihood systems.
Setshwaelo  revealed that millions of people are expected to be in need of direct food assistance in the north-east in the coming months, according to Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEW NET), adding that these North eastern states are currently in food crisis situation and the situation is expected to persist in affected areas till December, due to poor harvest.
Setshwaelo said the food security sector through 11 partners including FAO has collectively reached out to 712,467 people in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi with food and livelihood support as it would assist the country to promote sustainable agriculture and end hunger.
She who said FAO would be guided by the report from the food security data and robust analysis to chart a new method to improve food production, noted that policy makers and programme managers need to know, who desire food, where they are and how many there are.
The FAO Country Manager stressed that sometimes contracting information, regarding food security and nutrition situations are available for decisions making on humanitarian and emergency responseand  stated that the information provided would guide decisions, inform policy and programme development at the federal, state and local levels, in targeting humanitarian response actions on food security.
Setshwaelo said government together with the partners had embarked on the programme since April, to develop human and institutional capacities for monitoring and analysing food and nutrition security. She however, pointed out that the  monitoring has taken place in eight most-prone states in the country and it requires deliberate efforts to collect and compile reliable data, statistics and information.
The FAO representative said the data collected in addition to findings and recommendations would be communicate to decision makers and various partners and stakeholders. She said the government and key partnerswho  initiated the ‘Cadre Hormonise (CH)’ process in the eight states in the country  are Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina and Sokoto. It should be of note that the CH tool used in this analysis has enabled stakeholders to jointly describe the food and nutrition security situation in the targeted states.
Setshwaelo praised the FAO’s financial support to the Economic Community of West African States, United States Agency for International Development, European Union Commission and the French Development Agency.

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