UN donates $20m to address food security, nutrition challenges in north-east Nigeria

The United Nations has donated $20 million to boost the humanitarian response to challenges of food security and nutrition in north-east Nigeria.

Ann Weru, head of public information United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Nigeria, announced the donation in a statement on Tuesday.

Weru said the fund support was from the Central Response Fund (CERF) and the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF).

She said the CERF fund would be allocated to food security intervention and voucher support for 95,000 people who are extremely impacted by food insecurity in three Borno towns.

“In support of government efforts, some $9 million in CERF funding and a complimentary $11 million NHF allocation will go towards a coordinated multisectoral response aimed at preventing a deterioration to famine or famine-like conditions,” the statement reads.

“Almost 700,000 children under five are likely to suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states in 2023.

“This is more than double the number of SAM cases in 2022 and four times the number of cases in 2021.”

The OCHA information officer said about half a million of people battling severe acute malnutrition in the north-east region will experience levels of food insecurity from June to August, which is the peak of “lean season”.

She said there is a need to improve humanitarian response, adding that cases of diarrhoea and other outbreaks are usually recorded during the rainy season.

“Extremely high rates of acute malnutrition and deaths are predicted unless there is a rapid and significant scale-up of humanitarian assistance.

“Some $2 million will go to the UN Children’s Fund for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition, including providing ready-to-eat therapeutic food and Tom Brown solutions, a nutrient-rich locally produced supplementary food,” she added.

“And $ 1 million will go to the Food and Agriculture Organisation for seeds, tools and other agricultural livelihood support to boost local production of nutritious foods to build resilience.

“Most of the NHF funding, $11 million, will go towards improving access to clean water and sanitation hygiene, and nutrition, including reactivating, sustaining and scaling up the bed capacity at stabilization centres and scaling up outpatient therapeutic feeding programmes.

“The rest of the funding will go to healthcare, including the integrated management of childhood illnesses and complicated SAM cases, and to protection services with a focus on gender-based violence, child protection and mine action.

“The NHF aims to allocate 50 per cent of funding to eligible national partners on the frontlines.”

On his part, Matthias Schmale, UN resident representative in Nigeria, said urgent funding is needed to protect the lives and future of vulnerable children in the north-east region.

“Government, donors and the international community must make urgent funding available to protect the lives and future of vulnerable children in North-east Nigeria,” Schmale said.

Maryam Abdullahi – The Cable

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