The UN World Food Programme (WFP)says families in Nigeria and 42 other countries are forced to eat less or skip meals entirely, warning that the number of people teetering on the edge of famine in 43 those countries had risen to 45 million – up by three million in 2021 – as acute hunger spikes worldwide.
This number had risen from 42 million earlier 2021 and 27 million in 2019, the agency said in a statement on Monday.
A vulnerability analysis across the 43 countries surveyed showed families being forced to eat less or skip meals entirely. Sometimes children are being fed, while parents sacrifice meals and are forced to go hungry, according to WFP.
“The country’s human development indicators are poor. Persistent poverty affects more than half the population, most severely in the Northeast and Northwest regions. In addition, Nigeria is also subject to periodic droughts and floods; this has had an adverse impact on agricultural output and increased the vulnerability of populations, especially in rural areas,” the UN agency noted in its country profile of Nigeria. “Around 110 million Nigerians, representing over 60 per cent of the total population, live below the poverty line.”
The increase is based on those living within the official hunger classification of IPC4 (and worse) in Afghanistan, alongside other increases in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya, and Burundi.
“Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss. We’ve got conflict, climate change and COVID-19 driving up the numbers of the acutely hungry,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “And the latest data show there are now more than 45 million people marching towards the brink of starvation.”
He was speaking following a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan, where WFP is ramping up its support for almost 23 million people in need there.
“Fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertiliser is more expensive, and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria,” he added.
WFP said together with humanitarian partners in hunger hotspots across the world, they were doing everything possible to increase aid for millions who risked starvation. However, available resources cannot keep pace with demand when traditional funding streams are under huge strain.
WFP estimated that the cost of averting famine globally stood at $7 billion, up from some 6.6 billion earlier in 2021.
“As the cost of humanitarian assistance rises exponentially, we need more funds to reach families across the globe who have already exhausted their capacity to cope with extreme hunger,” added the WFP chief.
The agency said families facing acute food insecurity were being forced to make “devastating choices to cope with the rising hunger.”