The United Nations (UN) has estimated that about 155 million people in 55 countries including Nigeria are currently facing food insecurity and require urgent life and livelihood assistance.

The report just released by Global Network against Food Crises (GNAFC), the UN noted that in northern Nigeria, acute food insecurity has soared to five-year high, with conflict, economic shocks due to COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather as factors pushing people into food insecurity in 2020.

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Commenting on the report, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in a message that, “Conflict and hunger are mutually reinforcing. We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either…We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace.”

A joint statement released with the report by the EU, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and USAID, noted that if the current trends are not reversed urgently, food crises would increase in frequency and severity.

“One year after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for 2021 and beyond is grim. Conflict, pandemic-related restrictions fuelling economic hardship and the persistent threat of adverse weather conditions will likely continue driving food crises,” it added.

According to the report, “155 million people experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) across 55 countries in 2020 signifying an increase of around 20 million people from the previous year.”

Further analysis on the 155 million people stated in the report shows that around 133 000 people in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity in 2020 as catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5), where urgent action was needed to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihoods.

Another 28 million people faced Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) level of acute food insecurity in 2020, meaning they were one step away from starvation across 38 territories where urgent action saved lives and livelihoods, and prevented famine spreading.

The report also added that 39 countries have experienced food crises during the five years that the GNAFC has been publishing its annual report. In those countries or territories, the population affected by high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) increased from 94 to 147 million people between 2016 and 2020.