By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

About 15.6 million children in Nigeria are facing hunger in the lead up to the lean season starting in June, according to a new analysis by Save the Children.

The analysis added that the number of hungry children is 25% higher than the same period in 2023, and is likely the result of increasing insecurity, protracted conflict, banditry and rising food prices in the West African country.

According to Save the Children’s analysis of figures released by the Cadre Harmonisé – a regional framework to identify food and nutrition insecurity in the Sahel and West Africa – almost 32 million people in Nigeria, including 15.6 million children, will face crisis levels of hunger between June and August unless food and cash assistance is received [1].

While these months between harvests are when hunger typically peaks in Nigeria, a quarter more children are set to go hungry compared to 2023. This suggests that over 3.4 million additional children – on average 9,000 a day – have been plunged into hunger in the last year.

Violent killings, attacks and kidnappings by non-state armed groups and bandits in the country’s north have affected food production, disrupted local markets and caused farmers to flee their farms. According to the Association of Nigerian Farmers, so far this year at least 165 farmers across Nigeria have been killed, mostly in Benue in the country’s north-central region which the UN has said is an emerging hotspot for farmer and herder conflict.

Duncan Harvey, Save the Children’s Country Director for Nigeria, said: “An already dire hunger situation in the country is gradually going from bad to worse as violence, insecurity and rising prices combine to leave over 15 million children hungry in Nigeria. Hunger exists nationwide, but the situation in the north where violence is rife is particularly dire. In Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Zamfara, one in three children do not know where their next meal will come from.

Children in Nigeria – who make up one of the largest child populations in the world – have already endured far too much, as millions face conflict, violence and exploitation. This year one in six children will go hungry – an increase from last year. Urgent action must be taken to prioritise the needs of children to stop this devastating trend and protect innocent lives. If not, armed groups will continue to carry out brutal attacks, drive up food prices, and push more families to starvation.”

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