In a concerning development, the recent coup d’état in Niger is poised to exacerbate food insecurity across Nigeria and neighboring West African nations, warns the World Bank.
The global financial institution’s September ‘Food Security Update’ reveals that this political upheaval places an additional seven million people at risk of severe food insecurity in a region already grappling with soaring commodity and staple food prices, with 3.3 million people already affected during the lean season.
The World Bank underscores the implications of economic and financial sanctions imposed on Niger by the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
These sanctions have led to a staggering 21 percent increase in food prices in Niger during August, severely limiting impoverished households’ access to food and their ability to meet their dietary needs.
The situation is dire, with the government’s limited financial capacity hindering the implementation of its food assistance programme.
Consequently, the continued provision of food aid by the World Food Programme remains essential, but access restrictions are impeding aid delivery.
Additionally, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that shortages of seeds, feed, and high fertilizer costs will adversely affect the upcoming agricultural season, exacerbating food insecurity that is expected to persist beyond the lean season.
The World Bank highlights that Western and Central Africa are grappling with persistent food crises.
The number of people requiring food and nutritional assistance in the region has soared from approximately 10.7 million in 2019 to nearly 29 million in 2021, and it is projected to exceed 40 million in 2022 and 2023.
Notably, between June and August 2023, 42.5 million people in Nigeria and other West African countries find themselves in a food crisis or worse.
The bank attributes these alarming trends to a combination of civil insecurity and conflict, forced displacement, climatic shocks, political instability, the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conflict in Ukraine.
These factors have amplified the volatility of foodstuff and commodity prices, resulting in widespread inflation.
Importantly, current food prices for staple and imported products remain higher than those during the same period last year.
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