Food insecurity in the Lake Chad basin

June 24, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Patrick David



Alpha Jallow

Massive population displacements and insecurity in the Lake Chad basin are putting livelihoods and food security at high risk. In northeast Nigeria alone, the impact of the conflict on agriculture is estimated at USD 3.7 billion due to livestock losses and reduced agricultural production, destruction of irrigation and farming facilities, and collapse of extension services including veterinary health facilities.

In the affected areas, civilians bear the burden of insecurity. Displaced people lost their assets and most of them rely on the limited resources of host communities, who themselves have suffered from the disruption of agricultural activities and of transhumance flows over the past few years. Staple food prices have also increased, with rises up to 50 to 100 percent reported in some areas of Borno State.

As of June 2016, 4.6 million people are severely food insecure in the Lake Chad basin, of which 65 percent are located in Northeast Nigeria, especially in the Borno and Yobe States.

In order to respond to the immediate needs of affected host communities and displaced people, United Nations agency the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is providing critical agricultural and livelihood assistance to 92.000 people in the Lake Chad Basin, and will reach an additional 123.200 people in the coming months with essential crops for the ongoing and upcoming agricultural seasons.

Many of the farmers that will receive seeds didn’t plant in the past two years due to insecurity and the lack of agricultural inputs. “After three consecutive lost agriculture seasons, farmers from both host communities and displaced people are resuming agriculture activities. People are preparing their land and host communities have even allocated land to the internally displaced to farm this year” said Rosanne Marchesich, Response Team Leader and Senior Strategic Advisor of FAO’s Strategic Programme Management Team on Resilience, upon her return from a FAO field mission in Borno and Yobe States in Northeast Nigeria.

In addition, FAO is increasing its field presence by setting up a field office in Maiduguri, Northeast Nigeria, to ensure adequate monitoring of interventions. Enhanced efforts are made to better assess the current needs and develop coordinated interventions, together with national authorities and other partners. Strengthening the Food Security Sector work in Maiduguri will also bring coordination capacity closer to the field of operations in the Northeast.

However, more funds are needed to address food security and livelihood needs on a larger scale. To this end FAO is preparing a sub-regional strategy to mobilize more resources and provide increased support to vulnerable communities in the affected areas of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. “FAO and its partners must keep the momentum and build on recent interventions to expand livelihood assistance.” said Patrick David, Deputy Head of the Sub-regional Resilience Team for West Africa/Sahel (REOWA), Regional Food Security Analyst. In recent months security forces have recaptured 22 of 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Borno State, and 15 of 17 LGAs in Yobe State in Nigeria.

FAO is seeking to mobilize USD 15 million to reach an additional 63.000 families (504.000 people) by the end of the year with a wide range of agriculture-based activities aimed to quickly generate food production and income, as well as protect livelihoods.

While FAO is committed to respond to the immediate agriculture and livelihoods needs, medium and longer term investment will be critical to build resilient livelihoods and avoid longer-term reliance on external assistance. Support to livelihoods through improved access to and use of natural and economic resources, as well as community-based social protection mechanisms is a critical step to sustainable development and peace building in the Lake Chad basin.









Alpha Jallow

Alpha is a freelance journalist from Dakar, Senegal, having worked for the BBC African Radio service, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) and Radio France Internationale (RFI).


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