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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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Cameroon: Cholera Outbreak Claims a Dozen Lives

The disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

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Cholera
many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera.VOA

A cholera outbreak in Cameroon has claimed at least a dozen lives. Hundreds of people have been rushed to several hospitals in the central African state. It is feared some of the cases were imported from Nigeria and may contaminate refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arabo Saidou, the highest government official in charge of health in Cameroon’s north region says the first cases of cholera were reported along Cameroon’s border with Nigeria two months ago.

He says the disease has continued to spread since four cases of cholera were recorded in the northern Cameroon town of Mayo Oulo that borders Nigeria on May 18. He says many people, especially children, have been dying both in and out of hospitals.

In May, the Word Health Organization reported that Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states had been experiencing recurrent cholera outbreaks since February, with a total of 1,664 suspected cases and 31 deaths.

Many people from the three Nigerian states travel to Cameroon for business. At least a hundred thousand are in Cameroon as refugees fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency, with over 90,000 at the Minawao refugee camp.

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Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. VOA

Issac Bayoro, a Cameroonian epidemiologist working in the Mokolo administrative area where the Minawao refugee camp is located says they are educating refugees to respect hygiene norms and are also screening Nigerians coming to the camp in a bid to protect not only the refugees but their host communities.

He says many people continue to defecate in the open air or in streams and river beds where both humans and animals go to find water to drink thereby facilitating the spread of cholera. He says hygiene is not respected as many people do not wash their hands with soap as advised. He says people should stop trusting the belief that an African is naturally vaccinated and can not die of dirt.

Cameroon’s ministry of health indicated that the disease quickly spread to Yaounde and Douala, major cities in the central African state. The case reported in Yaounde was of a teenager who travelled to Yaounde from northern Cameroon with his mother. He latter died in a hospital according to the government.

Thomas Tawe, a university student and resident of Yaounde says he fears cholera may spread rapidly in the city because just 30 percent of the population has access to good drinking water.

Also Read-Fistula Epidemic In Nigeria, Cultural Practices To Blame

“In the city of Yaounde only those who can pay can have water. When you go into the quarters (neighbourhoods) you see that people are carrying water from unhygienic sources,” said Tawe. “If the water is contaminated, automatically we will be contaminated.” (VOA)