Nigeria declares food emergency

Two African countries – Nigeria and Namibia – highlight Africa’s worsening hunger rates.

The situation is so bad in Nigeria that President Bola Tinubu has just declared a state of emergency over food.

The BBC reports that poorer households are to be given monthly grants of $10 for the next six months, and that farmers will receive fertiliser and grain. They will also receive increased protection, as many farmers have abandoned their land after becoming targets of kidnap gangs.

Concerns about food insecurity have been longstanding in Nigeria – Africa’s most-populous country, which has also been battling widespread insecurity for several years.

In Namibia, as in South Africa, rising food insecurity at household level is being caused by price increases that make food unaffordable for many. Namibia is also facing food shortages because drought has reduced some crop harvests.

The Namibian newspaper focused on the latest food insecurity report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The report said 1.5 million people in Namibia could not afford a healthy diet.

In addition, a recent report by the World Food Programme (WFP) said an estimated 376 000 Namibians have been hit by severe food insecurity. This represents 14% of the country’s population, with 6 000 of those people at emergency level.

The country’s ministry of agriculture said household food security had taken a major hit across most part of the country, the newspaper reported. Dry spells had depleted food stocks in many households, particularly because of reduced harvests of millet and sorghum grown by small-scale farmers.

The FAO estimated, however, that total cereal production in Namibia would be slightly above the five-year average because of good production by commercial farmers of mostly irrigated maize. And the WFP said last year’s situation was better than in 2021.

“This was a significant improvement in the country’s food security situation,” it said.