August 23, 2017

Scaling up food assistance in Northeastern Nigeria

Written by USAID

This article originally appeared on USAID’s website.

Moments before Aisha Suleiman’s village broke their fast one evening during Ramadan, Boko Haram militants attacked. Aisha, her children, and husband managed to flee, walking for days before finding transport to Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State and a safe haven for 445,000 internally displaced persons. In Maiduguri, Aisha’s family began participating in a USAID-supported program that provides vulnerable, food-insecure households with cash transfers to purchase food in local markets.

Sadly, Aisha’s story is not unique. Boko Haram-related conflict has displaced more than 1.7 million people in northeastern Nigeria. Unable to farm or earn a living, an estimated 5.2 million people are projected to face severe food insecurity by mid-2017. Acute malnutrition is prevalent among children, and the risk of famine remains high, particularly in areas that are inaccessible to humanitarian organizations.

To address widespread food insecurity, USAID is supporting the UN World Food Program (WFP) to scale up operations and provide life-saving assistance in northeastern Nigeria. Since October 2016, WFP has significantly increased the number of people it reaches each month, from 200,000 to more than 1 million people in March 2017. WFP emergency assistance includes cash transfers and food vouchers where markets are functioning, as well as distributions of nutrition supplements and food commodities, such as cooking oil, rice, and legumes.

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