As the people of north-east Nigeria struggle to endure a devastating food and nutrition crisis, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has released a US$10 million allocation to help save lives and get urgent aid to those who need it most. Approximately 1.74 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east in 2022. With a 34 per cent increase so far from last year the north-east recorded the highest burden of acute malnutrition since 2016, and, over 300,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
The consequences of inaction are a matter of life and death. If immediate action is not taken, more than five thousand children are expected to die. Those who survive will potentially face lifelong disabilities. Malnutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, delays recovery and causes development stagnation.
This CERF allocation will enable accelerated action to increase treatment capacity and early identification of acute malnutrition. The funding will be used for integrated prevention and treatment, including proven local solutions to improve availability, affordability and/or accessibility to nutritious foods that protect women and children from repeated episodes of acute malnutrition.
This CERF allocation is the latest in a concerted effort to address the food and nutrition crisis. In May 2022 CERF allocated $15 million to support the catastrophic food insecurity and nutrition response. In September, the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF) provided two allocations of $2.5 million and $1 million to enable humanitarian actors to provide urgent nutrition support in line with the interagency US$ 351 million multisector plan to address the desperate food and nutrition situation.
These funds are being disbursed in the midst of an alarming lean season in which 4.1 million people across the north-east are facing the pain of hunger according to the Cadre Harmonisé food security and nutrition assessment.
Despite these efforts, there remains a massive funding gap. The Nutrition Sector has a lean season funding gap of $39 million, or 57 per cent. According to Mr. Matthias Schmale, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, “We urgently need to close the funding gap to rapidly scale-up the response and implement immediate life-saving measures. For the thousands of children trying to survive, additional funding is needed today, not tomorrow.”