Northern Nigeria: Fighting A Double Crisis

“People in north eastern Nigeria is battling one of the most severe humanitarian crises of today. Most of the food production has collapsed completely, and the conflict with Boko Haram makes it impossible for people to return home and pick up their lives”, says NORCAP expert, Virginia M. Moncrieff. 4.67 million people in Adamawa, Borno…”
Moroti Olatujoye
March 23, 2017 9:04 pm
“People in north eastern Nigeria is battling one of the most severe humanitarian crises of today. Most of the food production has collapsed completely, and the conflict with Boko Haram makes it impossible for people to return home and pick up their lives”, says NORCAP expert, Virginia M. Moncrieff.

4.67 million people in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states are severely food insecure, and the numbers are growing rapidly. There has been no production of food for the last three years due to the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram.

Moncrieff has spent three months in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno state, Nigeria. She is a Communications Officer, deployed to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

NORCAP currently has five experts working in Maiduguri, in areas such as shelter, camp management, and child protection. Humanitarian needs have been growing throughout 2016 and continue to do so in 2017, as aid agencies gain access to areas previously controlled by Boko Haram. A total of 14 million people are now in need of humanitarian aid in Nigeria.

Food security is one of the priority areas in Nigeria, where the main source of livelihood is agriculture. FAO is working to get the agricultural productivity up and running again after conflict, displacement and security concerns have prevented people from producing the food they need. According to Moncrieff, the organization is working to make the country more self-sufficient when it comes to food.

“It is not about handing out meals; it is not handing out bags of rice. It is giving people the ways and means of getting back and doing what they want to do. FAO does really practical things to get people back on their farms, helping with seeds, tools, water, fertilizer, and so on”, she explains.

An estimate of 400.000 people are living in ‘famine-like’ conditions. Farmers are unable to return to their land because of the situation with Boko Haram. In addition, they do not have the essentials to carry out their typical farming activities.

“People do not want to go home knowing that Boko Haram is there, or knowing that their fields are so dry they will starve to death”, Moncrieff says.

Safety is also an issue, attacks still happen, and people are afraid. Boko Haram is finding new ways of using explosive devices and causing harm. It is estimated that over 20,000 people have been killed in incidents related to Boko Haram in the last seven years.

“The situation is heartbreaking. When even mothers with small babies are recruited as suicide bombers, it is absolutely heartbreaking,” says Moncrieff.

The aid agencies in the field have to take extra safety measures in order to take care of themselves.

Although humanitarian access has increased, many areas remain inaccessible. Moncrieff underlines the importance of having functional medical centers, access to education, and up and running markets.

“We need to continue giving people the help they need, so that they get back the lives they so desperately want”, she says.

Credit: NRC

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