By Chioma Umeha
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US $3.5 million contribution from the Government of Japan to provide desperately needed food assistance to tens of thousands of internally displaced people in Northeast Nigeria.
The funding allows WFP to deliver food to more than 160,000 people in Borno and Yobe States, where the Boko Haram insurgency has left many people severely food insecure, and experts warn of a credible risk of famine in some places.
“We commend the Government and people of Japan for their continued contributions to WFP’s operations in Northeast Nigeria,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP Country Director and Representative ad interim in Nigeria. “This generous contribution from Japan will help WFP continue scaling up its response to reach more families in the region with food and nutrition support.”
Currently, some 4.7 million people are in dire need of food assistance in the three most conflict-affected states – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa – a figure that is expected to rise to 5.1 million by June.
“This new assistance is part of Japan’s pledge made at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Northeast Nigeria and Lake Chad Region held between 23-24 February 2017 for humanitarian assistance in the region, and newly additional funding from the Emergency Grant Aid as a swift response to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for emergency humanitarian support,” said Sadanobu Kusaoke, Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria.
“The government of Japan is committed to ensure that millions of people in dire need of food in northeast Nigeria do not go hungry,” he added. “It is expected that this funding will, in the interim, assuage the suffering of people in the affected states who are in a near-famine situation.”
For four consecutive months, WFP has reached more one million vulnerable in northeastern Nigeria with cash-based transfers, food distributions and nutritional assistance targeting children under five, along with pregnant and nursing women. Indeed, WFP’s assistance increased in March to reach nearly 1.2 million beneficiaries, with plans to gradually scale up to reach 1.8 million people monthly during the coming lean season.