For the second year in a row, Nigeria ranks 103rd out of 121 countries facing hunger in the 2022 Global Hunger Index.
On October 14, 2022, the 2022 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report was released, revealing the gravity of Nigeria’s hunger crisis. Published by Germany’s Welthungerhilfe and Ireland’s Concern Worldwide, to mark the World Food Day, the GHI ranked Nigeria 103rd out of 121 countries. Nigeria has held this ranking for the second year in a row.
The GHI outlines five levels of hunger: low, moderate, serious, alarming, and extremely alarming. Nigeria’s score of 27.3, which places it right above Ethiopia and right below Rwanda, indicates ‘serious’ hunger levels.
As of 14 June 2022, the World Bank had stated that Nigeria’s inflation rate of 16.95 per cent, already one of the world’s highest, was set to increase due to the war in Ukraine and the resultant rise in fuel and food prices. Furthermore, the World Bank predicted that an additional one million Nigerians would fall into poverty by the 2022 due to the increase in inflation. This is apart from the six million Nigerians that the World Bank determined would fall into poverty resulting from the inflation that was present before the Ukrainian war.
Although we didn’t need the GHI report to know that hunger in Nigeria poses a serious threat to the country’s wellbeing, its release is timely: hunger in Nigeria has only grown in pertinence due to the ongoing flooding crisis.
One of the major challenges is that the flooding is occurring in major food-producing states, like Anambra and Kogi. Additionally, as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) identified on 16 October 2022, the prolonged prevalence of insecurity in many parts of the country is largely responsible for the hunger crisis Nigerians are experiencing. The North, especially, has consistently been ravaged by attacks carried out by lethal groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province. Now, displaced communities and other vulnerable groups must contend with a lack of access to healthy and nutritious food, leading to even more severe hunger and a rapidly declining quality of life. The NHRC holds ‘insecurity chasing farmers from their farms, coupled with many farmlands submerged in water due to flooding in some parts of the country’, responsible for this crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic, though greatly decreased in severity, did its part in exacerbating Nigeria’s food crisis. Pandemic lockdowns caused a revenue crisis within the country, largely due to a drop in the price of oil – which accounts for more than 80 per cent of Nigeria’s exports. This led Nigeria to borrow from various multilateral and bilateral lenders and inevitably fall into financial quicksand. The early part of the pandemic, thrust Nigeria into its second recession in four years, however, even when economy activity began to improve later on in the pandemic, many found themselves struggling to afford food and other basic needs which had become subject to rising inflation. On 16 October 2022, the 30th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, UN secretary-general, António Guterres, made relevant observations:
As we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we face a harsh truth: the world is moving backwards…COVID-19 plunged millions into poverty, setting back more than four years of hard-won progress. Inequalities are widening. National and household economies are battered by job losses, skyrocketing food and energy prices, and the gathering shadows of a global recession.
Meanwhile, 17 October 2022 also saw the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) heavily criticize President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for the reportedly ‘bogus’ budget of an estimated N11.92 billion for their food and overseas trips. HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, demanded, that the president reduce his budget to N1 billion naira, and allot the remaining N10.92 billion to farmers and other flood victims. This way, he argued, the damage to the country’s agricultural sector wrought by flooding can begin to be rectified. To this point, Onwubiko further explained that ‘it is unfortunate and detestable that elected leaders in Nigeria should exhibit this level of gluttony and avariciousness at a time when many more Nigerians are starving to death.’
As more Nigerians pay attention to the forthcoming elections, in the coming weeks, the country’s leadership will likely be under a tremendous amount of scrutiny. It stands to reason, therefore, that such leaders’ response (or lack thereof) to the various crises currently plaguing Nigeria will greatly sway the minds of voters⎈
Here are some Republic articles to read for more context on Nigeria’s food economy:
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