At least 22.7 million Nigerians would slip into food shortage crisis in 2019 if confronted by a “shock or stressor”.

According to the 2019 Global Report on Food Crisis published in April 2019, and released on Wednesday in Brussels, of the 143 million people likely to slip into the crisis state, Nigeria ranked second, just below Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the list of eight countries with the largest number of people in the stressed phase of the food insecurity chain.

The report also revealed that Nigeria and seven other countries house two-third of the world's hungry people.

According to the report, households in Phase 2, where majority of Nigerians are, have “minimal adequate food consumption and cannot afford to access certain essential needs without engaging in coping strategies that undermine their food insecurity or ability to recover, such as compromising their food intake or selling their productive assets”.

“Therefore, they may slip into IPC/CH Phase 3 or above if an additional shock or stressor occurs. Although the main focus of this report is on populations in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above, it is also important to consider and act upon those in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2).”

The countries listed were Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The report found that at least 113 million people experienced high levels of food insecurity in the world’s most severe food crises in 2018, noting that the situation was primarily driven by conflict and climate-related disasters.

One of the key findings of the report showed that nearly two-thirds of those facing acute hunger were in just eight countries.

“The worst food crises in 2018, in order of severity, were: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, South Sudan and northern Nigeria.

"These eight countries accounted for two-thirds of the total number of people facing acute food insecurity – amounting to nearly 72 million people.”

Similarly, a short-term outlook of food insecurity for 2019 showed that “Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, South Sudan and northern Nigeria are expected to remain among the world’s most severe food crises in 2019.”

“Large segments of populations in most of these countries risk falling into Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) levels of acute food insecurity,” it stated.

The report further added: “In the 16 states of northern Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, the number of people in ‘Crisis’ and ‘Emergency’ decreased by 40 per cent between June and August 2017 and 2018 to 5.3 million.

“At the peak of the lean season, three million were acutely food insecure in the three north-eastern states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency where protracted conflict and mass displacement disrupted agriculture, trade, markets and livelihoods, and pushed up food prices,” said the report.

José da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said in spite of a slight drop in 2018 in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity, “the figure is still far too high.”

“We must act at scale across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to build the resilience of affected and vulnerable populations. To save lives, we also have to save livelihoods,” he added.

David Beasley, World Food Programme Executive Director, also said: “While critical to saving lives and alleviating human suffering, humanitarian assistance does not address the root causes of food crises.”

Beasley highlighted the importance of “attacking the root causes of hunger: conflict, instability, the impact of climate shocks”.

“Boys and girls need to be well-nourished and educated; women need to be truly empowered. Rural infrastructure must be strengthened in order to meet that ‘Zero Hunger’ goal. Programmes that make a community resilient and more stable will also reduce the number of hungry people,” he added.

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