A report released by the United Nations has estimated that about 155 million people in 55 countries including Nigeria are facing acute food insecurity and require urgent life and livelihood-saving assistance.
The report noted the situation in northern Nigeria, just as it revealed that acute food insecurity has soared to five-year high, with conflict, economic shocks due to COVID-19 and extreme weather as factors pushing people into acute food insecurity in 2020.
This was stated in an annual report launched by the Global Network against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance of the UN, the EU, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises together.
Commenting on the report, a Message from the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, stated that, "Conflict and hunger are mutually reinforcing. We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either... We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace."
In a joint statement released with the report by the EU, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and USAID, they noted that if current trends are not reversed, food crises would increase in frequency and severity.
"One year after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for 2021 and beyond is grim. Conflict, pandemic-related restrictions fuelling economic hardship and the persistent threat of adverse weather conditions will likely continue driving food crises," it added.
However, the report noted that the stark warning from its 2021 Global Report on Food Crises revealed that conflict, or economic shocks often related to COVID-19 along with extreme weather, were continuing to push millions of people into acute food insecurity.
According to the report, "155 million people experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) across 55 countries in 2020 signifying an increase of around 20 million people from the previous year."
The report warned about a worrisome trend of acute food insecurity that has kept up its relentless rise since 2017 since its first edition of the report.
Of the 155 million people, around 133 000 people in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity in 2020 as catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5),where urgent action was needed to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihoods.
It added that at least another 28 million people faced Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) level of acute food insecurity in 2020, meaning they were one step away from starvation across 38 territories where urgent action saved lives and livelihoods, and prevented famine spreading.
It also added that 39 countries have experienced food crises during the five years that the GNAFC has been publishing its annual report. In these countries/territories, the population affected by high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) increased from 94 to 147 million people between 2016 and 2020.