Nigeria has found itself on the troubling list of nine countries projected to endure an escalating hunger crisis throughout 2023, as per the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI).
This index serves as a comprehensive tool for monitoring and assessing hunger on a global, regional, and national scale.
Joining Nigeria in this unfortunate predicament are Afghanistan, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, Burkina Faso, and Mali, all of which are expected to witness increasingly dire hunger situations throughout the year.
The Global Hunger Index stressed that despite the 2023 circumstances not yet being fully accounted for in the data within this year’s GHI scores, early warning resources have indicated a global crisis unfolding. The index further noted that while conflict and climate change remain pivotal drivers of these crises, economic downturns have emerged as an even more widespread and concerning factor.
Nigeria, in particular, is ranked 109th out of the 125 countries with adequate data to calculate the 2023 GHI scores. Scoring 28.3 in the index, Nigeria currently faces a serious level of hunger.
The United Nations defines food insecurity as the absence of consistent access to food, which not only diminishes the quality of dietary intake but also disrupts normal eating patterns, with negative repercussions for nutrition, health, and overall well-being.
The exacerbation of Nigeria’s food insecurity crisis can be partly attributed to the acceleration of food inflation since August 2019, particularly since the nation floated the naira and removed the petrol subsidy. These actions were taken despite soaring malnutrition and hunger levels in Africa’s most populous country.
The National Bureau of Statistics reveals that food inflation, constituting 50 percent of the overall inflation rate, surged to 30.64 percent in September 2023, marking the highest in 18 years, compared to 29.34 percent in August.
This rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis is largely attributed to the increasing prices of oil and fats, bread and cereals, potatoes, yams, and other tubers, fish, fruit, meat, vegetables, and dairy products.
In a grim development, the World Bank, in its recent food security update released on June 29, included Nigeria in the list of nations expected to confront catastrophic levels of food insecurity in 2023.
The report indicated that acute food insecurity is set to worsen in Nigeria, with a projected 24.8 million people grappling with acute food insecurity between June and August 2023, including 1.1 million people in emergency (IPC Phase 4) conditions.
As Nigeria grapples with the deepening hunger crisis, the nation faces significant challenges on multiple fronts, from economic instability to rising food prices, posing a grave threat to the well-being and livelihoods of its people. The international community is closely monitoring the situation and working to provide assistance to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this escalating crisis.