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Food Insecurity and State of Emergency in Nigeria

Nigerian government declared a national state of emergency on food insecurity on July 14, 2023, acknowledging a severe hunger crisis. According to UNICEF, 25 million Nigerians face severe hunger, with 17 million currently food insecure, primarily children. Children are especially vulnerable because of their higher nutritional needs and limited access to food, which has an impact on their physical and cognitive development. It is critical to address this food insecurity.

The government's declared state of emergency includes 12 key action plans, including the immediate release of fertilisers and grains, enhanced farm security measures, and improved agricultural transportation and storage facilities.

Food insecurity in Nigeria is exacerbated by violent conflicts that disrupt food supply chains, food inflation caused by a variety of factors such as the COVID-19 lockdown and fuel scarcity, climate change causing natural disasters such as floods, and high levels of unemployment and poverty.

For years, Nigeria has been plagued by a series of violent conflicts, including armed banditry, a farmer-herder crisis, and insurgent boko haram attacks. The violence has reduced food production and disrupted food supply chains between northern and southern Nigeria, resulting in limited food access. People have been displaced as a result of these conflicts, and displaced communities have lost access to their farmlands, livelihoods, and markets, disrupting agricultural activities and food distribution networks. Farmlands have also been destroyed as a result of the farmer-herder conflict, as herders feed healthy crops to their cattle and trample on good soil with the herd.

Humanitarian groups may aspire to provide aid to alleviate the food crisis, but their efforts may be halted due to security concerns. The combination of food insecurity and violent conflicts puts Nigerians' human security at risk.

Food prices in Nigeria have been rising in recent years. During the coronavirus pandemic in 2019, farmers and food-producing companies were unable to produce enough food due to a lockdown that restricted access to their farmlands and factories. As a result, food prices skyrocketed, and they remained high after the lockdown. Furthermore, fuel scarcity arose in February 2022 as a result of the government's removal of fuel subsidies. This had an impact on food prices throughout the country, and the foreign exchange rate caused another spike in food prices because Nigeria relies on imports for a large portion of its food production. Food insecurity has inevitably resulted from the outrageous rise in food prices caused by these factors.

Many other factors contribute to food insecurity, including electricity shortages (the nation's power grid has failed five times since 2022), which has made it difficult to store and preserve food, rapid population growth, which has put pressure on limited resources, poor government policies, such as low budgetary allocations to agriculture, and so on.

Efforts to alleviate the crisis are hampered by security concerns, which impede humanitarian aid. Spreading awareness, supporting NGOs, and personal advocacy are all suggested ways to help during this crisis. Nigeria's declared food emergency highlights the critical need for effective government policies, increased awareness, and support for humanitarian efforts.

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