The unnerving reason you haven’t heard of Nigeria’s famine

“We will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere.”

Nigeria is a coastal African country where hundreds of thousands of people face a catastrophic climate of famine – or widespread food scarcity-, concentrated in the northeast. ‘Severe acute malnutrition’ is the deadliest category of measured malnutrition, according to the Economist, and a staggering 240,000 children in Borno suffer at this level, with an estimated 150+ children dying daily. 

And it is man-made.

Image via rescue.org

The Borno State, entering its 3rd season without harvest, is the worst affected by the violent insurgency of Boko Haram, who is leveraging the mass weaponry of starvation to favor recruitment and sexual slavery through the violent upset of trade and farming practices.

Boko Haram, an Islamic State-affiliated militant group meaning “Western education is forbidden”, had its powerful uprising in 2009, marring the following 7 years with deadly attacks on government officials & compounds, and civilians, which notably has included the attack and capture of women and schoolchildren, drawing international uproar and demand for justice with the 2014 #BringBackOurGirls campaign. 230 of the 270+ kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School are still missing.  

👉 Estimates range from 1.82 million to 2.5+ million people being internally displaced by the violence

👉 5 million people are in need of food assistance; close to 3 million enduring moderate to severe food insecurity, according to the World Food Programme

So why have we not heard more about this crisis?…

…largely, as explained briefly in the profile above, because aid cannot effectively get in to reach the affected. And if aid can’t get in, journalists can’t get in. 

“The staggering hunger crisis created by the insurgents has been largely hidden from view, partly because it has been extremely dangerous for aid groups and journalists to visit the area.” (The Washington Post)

As certain areas have been forcibly released from the Boko Haram stronghold, it has become increasingly apparent that institutional failure has also exacerbated the crisis through a dangerously inaccurate underestimation of the situation’s scale. Aid efforts are painfully underfunded. Hundreds of thousands to millions remain unreachable, the data for which remains startlingly unreliable. The world still knows very little about millions of people in the area. 

And Nigeria isn’t the only country with food problems… 

Check out the Famine Early Warning Systems Network

According to them: 

South Sudan: Conflict and restricted humanitarian access make Famine a possibility (01/18/2017)

Somalia: Severe drought, rising prices, continued access limitations, and dry forecasts suggest Famine is possible (01/16/2017)

Yemen: Famine possible if food imports drop and conflict further restricts markets and humanitarian access (01/04/2016)

Who is helping?

👉 The WFP, or World Food Programme, is poised to bring aid to 700,000 people in the region and ” includes the use of helicopter to carry vital relief – staff, medicines, vaccines, ready-to-use specialized nutritious food – to hard-to-reach isolated areas.” ðŸ™‹You can donate to their aid efforts here.

👉 Doctors Without Borders (or MSF), from which aid workers have been active for two years in Maiduguri-area camps, a conflict-free northeastern city. ðŸ™‹You can donate to their aid efforts here. 

👉 UNICEF, who has recently appealed for a doubling of funding to address the largely-unattended to humanitarian crisis, quoted as possibly the world’s current worst. ðŸ™‹You can donate to their aid efforts here. 

Even if you are not in the position to help financially, you can make waves by adding your voice among those that are pleading for help.

It is too easy for worthwhile causes to be drowned out by what’s trending. Choose to help make Nigeria’s crisis matter worldwide; it is for them that we #POINTtoNigeria. 

Photo Adrienne Bingham
Adrienne Bingham
Blog Coordinator

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.