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World Food Program (WFP) Warns of Severe Funding Shortfall in Nigeria that can endanger lives of 4.7 million people affected by Hunger

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FILE - A mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding center in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 29, 2016. VOA
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Africa, April 19, 2017: The World Food Program is sounding the alarm over a severe funding shortfall in Nigeria that could endanger the lives of 4.7 million people affected by hunger in the nation’s volatile northeast.

The U.N. agency has received just under 15 percent of the $416 million it needs for its operations in Nigeria this year.

In the next five or six months, says WFP Acting Regional Communications Officer Elizabeth Bryant, the U.N. agency needs $200 million to keep feeding Nigeria’s hunger-stricken population.

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Experts predict that the annual lean season — usually, the waiting period before the next harvest — could come as early as May, after two years of failed harvests in the agricultural northeast, Bryant told VOA, adding that funding needs are urgent.

FILE – This view shows one of the biggest camps for people displaced by Islamist extremists in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Aug. 28, 2016. VOA

“We need it now, ” she said from Dakar, “so that … we have food lined up, that we’re prepared. And in fact, the food is there, we just need to have the money to be able to buy it and distribute it to people in need.”

The agency has contingency plans which include reducing rations, Bryant says, but officials are appealing to donors to act now to prevent the situation from becoming a famine.

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“At that point, a lot of lives have already been lost,” she said, “and the other thing is it costs a lot more, financially, to react to … a famine, than to try to avoid one.”

Nigeria is one of four nations on the brink of famine. Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia are also facing dire hunger, in what U.N. officials say is the largest humanitarian crisis since the international body’s creation.

The insecurity and mass displacement caused by the now seven-year Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria has brought farming to a near halt. Some parts of Borno state have been off-limits to aid workers due to fighting.

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The Nigerian government’s chief humanitarian coordinator, Dr. Ayoade Alakija, told VOA that this is not just a threat to Africa’s most populous nation. It is also a threat to millions of families in Chad, Niger and Cameroon who rely on Nigerian agriculture.

“Because these people would farm, and they would farm their millet and their maize and their beans — and it would be exported to those other countries and that was how they got their livelihoods. But also, that is how those countries got their food,” Alakija said.

In an op-ed published Friday in the French newspaper Le Monde, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria warned that a suspension of relief efforts in northeastern Nigeria could render the area more vulnerable to the spread of extremism. (VOA)

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Half The Global Population Uses The Internet: ITU Report

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness.

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Nigeria, Population
Youths are seen browsing the internet inside the venue of the launch of Google free wifi project in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

The International Telecommunication Union reports that for the first time in history, half of the global population is using the internet. A new report finds by the end of the year, 3.9 billion people worldwide will be online.

The report finds access to and use of information and communication technologies around the world is trending upwards. It notes most internet users are in developed countries, with more than 80 percent of their populations online. But it says internet use is steadily growing in developing countries, increasing from 7.7 percent in 2005 to 45.3 percent this year.

The International Telecommunication Union says Africa is the region with the strongest growth, where the percentage of people using the internet has increased from just over two percent in 2005 to nearly 25 percent in 2018.

Somalia, Population
A Somali man browses the internet on his mobile phone at a beach in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. VOA

The lowest growth rates, it says, are in Europe and the Americas, with the lowest usage found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to data on internet usage, newly released statistics show mobile access to basic telecommunication services is becoming more predominant. ITU Senior Statistician, Esperanza Magpantay says access to higher speed mobile and fixed broadband also is growing.

“So, there is almost 96 percent of the population who are now covered by mobile population signal of which 90 percent are covered by 3G access. So, this is a high figure, and this helps explain why we have this 51 percent of the population now using the internet,” she said.

With the growth in mobile broadband, Magpantay says there has been an upsurge in the number of people using the internet through their mobile devices.

Nairobi, Population
Young men surf the internet at a cyber cafe on June 20, 2012 in Kibera slum in Nairobi.

The ITU says countries that are hooked into the digital economy do better in their overall economic well-being and competitiveness. Unfortunately, it says the cost of accessing telecommunication networks remains too high and unaffordable for many.

Also Read: Global Care Crisis Rises Along With Growing Population

It says prices must be brought down to make the digital economy a reality for the half the world’s people who do not, as yet, use the internet. (VOA)