By Sola Ogundipe
NO less than 730,000 people including Internally displaced persons, IDPs, are hungry and at risk of starvation as they battle the devastating Boko Haram insurgency among other shocks in the Lake Chad Basin region.
Although the area, bordered by Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger, has been under siege from insurgency for years, and has benefited from series of interventions, the threat of chronic hunger from famine and food shortages has escalated.
As part of measures to relieve the situation, Germany has contributed 25.5 million euros (US$28.5 million) to assist the thousands of hungry persons in the immediate region.
The sum was contributed to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to support its activities in the four affected countries.
A breakdown shows that Nigeria will receive (10.5 million euros), Cameroon (5.6 million euros), Chad and Niger (4.7 million euros each).
According to the WFP, which is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience, the funds are especially timely, as the imminent lean season – the period between harvests – is depleting people’s resources and intensifying hunger and malnutrition.
WFP said the support illustrates Germany’s generous and continuing response to the UN’s call for global, immediate action to address the Lake Chad Basin emergency, Africa’s largest humanitarian crisis. Northeast Nigeria, receiving the biggest share of assistance, risks tipping into famine.
According to Hinrich Thölken, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the International Organisations in Rome, “When I travelled to the Lake Chad Basin recently, I found a critical humanitarian situation.” “A huge number of internally displaced people are in urgent need of food assistance, and WFP is well-placed to deliver quick and effective relief. We are happy to give additional support so WFP can do so.”
Thölken said the German contribution will support WFP’s food and cash-based assistance to more than 680,000 internally displaced people and refugees in the four countries.
“It will also benefit 17,000 young pupils in Niger and Cameroon who are enrolled in WFP’s emergency school meals programme. In addition, it will allow 40,000 children under five to receive special fortified foods that fight malnutrition.”
Abdou Dieng, head of WFP’s Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa, noted: “At a time when WFP faces a sizeable funding shortfall in our emergency response across the Lake Chad Basin region, Germany’s contribution is extremely welcome news.
“It will help us reach thousands of the most vulnerable at a time when hunger is increasing with the approaching lean season, when people’s stocks are running out before the next harvest.”
Germany, which has consistently remained a key supporter of WFP operations globally, became its second largest donor in 2016.
Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.