Humanitarian CrisesNews

MSF Warns Of Growing Hunger Epidemic In Northwest Nigeria

The international medical aid organisation said in order to avert the impending malnutrition crisis, humanitarian intervention must be reinforced in the region where the food crisis has been worsened by armed violence, climate change, and poverty.

International aid organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said it is concerned that if the humanitarian response people are getting in Northwest Nigeria doesn’t improve, an imminent malnutrition crisis looms in the region. 

Despite the region generating one of the nation’s fastest-growing displacement crises, it had been previously reported that the international world has mostly overlooked the humanitarian situation there.

For about a decade, the region that has been rated low by all development indicators has witnessed farmer-herder clashes, cattle rustling, kidnap for ransom, epidemics, and a nutrition crisis. Hundreds have been forcefully displaced as a result of these.

Recently, some residents were forced to pay a levy they call “protection money” to terrorists in Zamfara. 

MSF says between January and May this year, its teams working in the region provided inpatient care to 10,200 severely malnourished children with medical complications and admitted 51,000 children to its outpatient feeding programmes, which is 26 per cent higher than what was tenable last year. 

They have now opened three new outpatient therapeutic feeding centres, in addition to the 10 inpatient centres and 32 outpatient centres that it already manages across the northwestern states of Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

It added that before the end of the year, it is expected to be higher. Still, even though the lean season merely just started, their treatment centres are already fully occupied. 

The lean season is the period between planting and harvests. 

“The numbers of malnourished children that we’re receiving in our facilities are a strong indicator that the further we get into the lean season, the more cases we’ll receive,” said MSF medical coordinator, Htet Aung Kyi.

According to the press release, children get into spiral malnutrition after moving out of the treatment centres, because their families don’t have the wherewithal to continue feeding them, and the children get malnourished again. 

In 2022, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), estimated 133 million of the country’s population are multidimensionally poor, with 65 per cent of the poor people living in the North. 

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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