As the malnutrition crisis in northwestern Nigeria continues at catastrophic levels, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on the international and humanitarian community to respond to the emergency needs of people in the region, and for the northwestern from Nigeria to be included in the UN humanitarian response.
plan, allowing for a broader and more sustained response.
Since the beginning of 2022, MSF teams have witnessed an extraordinarily high number of malnourished children in MSF programs located in five northwestern Nigerian states.
Multiple factors have led to a sharp increase in malnutrition in the region over the past year.
“With rising insecurity, climate change and global food price inflation in a post-pandemic world, we can only imagine this crisis getting worse,” said Dr Simba Tirima, MSF representative in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian authorities need support to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.
This must include emergency humanitarian funding now for organizations capable of responding and a commitment to include north-western Nigeria in the UN humanitarian response plan for 2023.” Since January, MSF teams working in collaboration with Nigerian health authorities have treated nearly 100,000 acutely malnourished children in 34 outpatient centers and admitted some 17,000 children requiring hospital care in 10 inpatient centers in the states.
In Zamfara state, one of the areas most affected by ongoing violence and banditry, we recorded a 64% increase in the number of severely malnourished children treated in MSF-supported outpatient nutrition departments from January to August 2022 compared to January to August 2021.
MSF nutritional surveys have also underlined the severity of the crisis, even in areas less affected by violence and insecurity.
In the Mashi local government area of Katsina state, MSF found a global acute malnutrition rate of 27.4% and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 7.1% in June, despite the community being relatively free from violence and forced displacement.
These rates indicate a critical emergency.
The current UN humanitarian response plan for Nigeria focuses on the critical situation in the northeast region of the country, excluding the northwest.
Unlike MSF, which is not funded by the humanitarian response plan, many organizations are currently unable to respond to acute needs in the northwest because they depend on it for funding.
“We understand that the United Nations, donors and other stakeholders are increasingly aware of the scope of the crisis in the northwest, but it is necessary to go beyond discussions,” said Froukje Pelsma, MSF head of mission in Nigeria.
“It is essential that the North West be included in Nigeria’s next humanitarian response plan for 2023, because it plays a key role in mobilizing resources to save lives.