United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 2011 projected figures suggest that 1.1 million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2012 in eight countries in the Sahel including northern Nigeria.
The other countries are Chad, Niger, Mali, Bukina Faso, Mauritania, Northern Senegal, and Northern Cameroon.
A UNICEF nutrition specialist in the D. Field Office, covering 10 northern states, Mr. Niyi Oyedokun, who disclosed this during an advocacy and sensitisation meeting on Sahelian nutrition crisis at the Tahir Guest House in Kano State, gave the projected figures of persons at risk of malnutrition as 18.7 million, children at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) as 1.1million and children at the risk of moderate acute malnutrition as 3 million.
He said surveys also indicated elevated levels of acute malnutrition in Northern Nigeria, underscoring a crisis situation in the states in the Sahelian belt.
According to the nutrition specialist, "Poor nutrition jeopardizes children's survival, health, growth and development which slow down national progress towards developmental goals. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) was found between 5 to 15 percent in all surveys across all states and when the situation is beyond 10%, it is regarded as emergency situation. Without any intervention, severe acute malnutrition has up to 60% mortality risk and children with severe acute malnutrition are nine time likely to die from any causes than those who are not".
He said some of the factors that give rise to acute malnutrition in children the affected countries include scare rain in 2011 resulting to poor harvest, displacement of people and disruption of food production due to conflicts and violence and structural poverty in the region.