After talks with top officials and people left destitute by the crisis
in Northeast Nigeria, UnitedNations World Food Programme (WFP)
Executive Director, David Beasley, has hailed the massive and joint
push by Nigerian authorities and humanitarian workers to save lives,
but warned the momentum must continue in the face of a complex and
challenging emergency.
“We are seeing the power of humanitarian assistance,” said Beasley,
following a trip to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State that is
hardest hit by the Boko Haram-driven crisis.
“It has changed the lives of malnourished children whose mothers once
worried about whether they would survive,” he said. “It is giving
hope to many displaced and hungry people, and to others who are now
returning home. Together, we are making a difference, but we must
build on these fragile successes.”
Beasley’s two-day visit to Nigeria — his first since being appointed
to head WFP in March — included meetings with Vice-President Yemi
Osinbajo and Borno State Deputy Governor Usman Durkwa.
He also spoke with community leaders and young mothers at the National
Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp in Maiduguri, a city that shelters
hundreds of thousands fleeing hunger and conflict.
Across Northeast Nigeria this year, WFP through its partners has been
delivering monthly food and nutritional assistance to more than a
million extremely vulnerable people. Thanks to generous donor
contributions, our steady support helps to stabilize lives.
But the overall situation remains extremely worrying. The
June-September lean season has worsened malnutrition in many places.
Insecurity, poor roads and a backup at Lagos port are thwarting WFP’s
current ability to reach more remote areas and deliver imported
specialized nutritional supplements to some of the children who need
it.
Beasley warned of the broader impact of the crisis that goes beyond
Nigeria and spreads across the four-nation Lake Chad Basin region that
also includes Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
“This is a major crisis that needs a security, humanitarian and
development component — these are key to resolving it in the short and
long term,” he said. “The international community cannot afford to
ignore this problem, or it risks getting much worse.”
Beasley also noted the Nigerian government’s significant
hunger-fighting commitments, which include a recent donation of 5,000
mt of rice to WFP’s operations. Authorities have launched a separate
relief initiative aimed to distribute 30,000 mt of rice to hungry
people in six Nigerian states.
For its part, WFP has purchased nearly $95 million worth of locally
grown food for its operations, and injected an overall US$212 million
into the Nigerian economy if cash transfers, transport, local salaries
and other expenditures are taken into account.

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