Back in November 2016, the UN had declared north-east Nigeria to be in critical condition with respect to non-availability of food for survival. As much as 75000 people were said to be in danger of “dying within months”; a majority of which were children. The root of all problems leads us to the Boko Haram uprising. These militants have displaced thousands of people and destroyed all forms of trade and agriculture, rendering the underprivileged even more helpless. Peter Lundberg, a UN humanitarian coordinator said that by 2017, atleast 14 million people would require assistance.
Several Nigerians have fled to neighbouring areas, but with the lack of external support, they are unable to fend for themselves. They don’t even have access to 15 litres of clean water per day. While the government has succeeded in taking back some of the land that was seized, it’s of no use without the proper resources.
So what has been done in the meantime to alleviate their impoverished condition? Leaders of several countries got together in Norway to discuss the issue of food shortages. This year’s appeal for the Nigerian crisis has only been 1.8% funded, which barely makes a dent in the amount required for sufficient provisions.
Moreover, Lake Chad, a vital resource for freshwater, agricultural needs and aquatic life is drying up. As for some good news, the World Food Prize winner of 2017, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, contributed to the betterment of Africans by providing seeds and fertilizers to farmers, so as to further increase yield. He has also helped small entrepreneurs establish businesses. It is reported that food production has expanded significantly in Nigeria courtesy of Adesina.
Many are of the opinion that Nigeria in itself is a well-to-do nation with ample resources. However, the growing political unrest and lack of funds for the underprivileged are the causes for the catapulting levels of starvation, disease and death. A lot of the country’s finances disappear within the governmental ranks; leaving little in the budget for crisis aid.
If there’s a will, there’s a way. In keeping with that saying, the farmers and fishermen of north-east Nigeria, who had fled when faced with violence, have decided to return to their homelands.
The head of the fishermen’s union was quoted saying, “No amount of food aid can adequately feed us. The only way out of this unending starvation is for us to return home, grow our own food and rebuild our lives.” (“Boko Haram food crisis,” 2017) It is heartening to see the very people suffering taking up a stance for each other.
Individuals and certain countries are doing their bit, but unless everyone realizes how urgent this problem is, it is going to be tough to meet the requirement. What we can do is encourage people to participate in drives and campaigns that fund such crisis.
In addition to increasing awareness, we should also prod our respective national leaders into joining hands with other developed and developing countries to fight for Nigeria and other African regions undergoing harsh famines.