The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO) has projected that 50 million people could face a severe food crisis in West Africa if the current coronavirus pandemic worsens.
Coumba Sow, FAO Rresilience Ccoordinator for West Africa, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic will have serious consequences for millions of people in West Africa who are already battling chronic hunger, insecurity, climate change and conflict, unless there is a quick intervention.
Sow shared that “Year after year, five out of the ten countries at the bottom of the UN Development Index are in West Africa.”
The region of West Africa, which includes Nigeria, has long been disposed to droughts and food scarcity, as well as escalating insecurity for years, the region has endured as a hotspot for humanitarian crises caused by conflicts and natural disasters.
With the current rise in coronavirus cases and deaths in West Africa, humanitarian agencies have started expressing worry that the COVID-19 pandemic may create more problems for the region.
“As most of West Africa is already affected by other complex crises, our first priority is to safeguard and maintain our current emergency response, especially activities supporting the upcoming agricultural campaign, which will help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food security,” Sow said.
She went on to state that due to regional conflict, as of April there were 11 million people in West Africa with an immediate need of food, and that the number would continue to rise, potentially reaching 17 million during the lean summer season if rapid action were not taken.
According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, some 5.1 million Nigerians were estimated to be in immediate need of food assistance between March and May 2020. This figure includes 1.4 million people in Borno State, 1 million in Yobe and 500,000 in Adamawa.