By Bukola Adewumi
The United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale says Nigeria needs a courageous leader to end insecurity, hunger and malnutrition in the North East.
Schmale said this on Friday, at the launch of the Lean Season Food Security and Nutrition Crisis Multi-sector Plan 2023, in Abuja.
He said the Federal Government urgently needed to put in place good policies that would support agriculture, health, education and socio-economic development for Nigerians to thrive.
“There is need for action in terms of good healthcare, providing good and nutritious food for the people, and also improving security in communities,” he said.
He stressed that agriculture would be meaningless if people were made to eat the seeds they needed for planting.
He said government needs to support agriculture to help people fight hunger that had deepened food crisis and malnutrition as a result of years of protracted conflict and insecurity.
Schmale said government needed to work with local, state, national and international NGOs, to move and reach the vulnerable in need of assistance in the North East.
He said: “Combination of fuel and food inflation, naira cash crisis earlier in the year, and climate shocks, are among factors that have worsened the crisis.
“I have seen firsthand the anguish of mothers fighting for the lives of their malnourished infants in our partner-run stabilisation centres, a situation no one should have to face.
“I have spoken with children who described going for days without eating enough, mothers who saw their children go to bed crying from hunger.
“Families struggling to feed their families as they have gone for months without receiving food assistance.”
The UN official said if additional funding was not received, humanitarian partners would only reach about 300,000 of the 4.3 million at-risk of food assistance during the peak of the lean season.
He said the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan(HRP) was seeking 1.3 billion dollars to support six million people.
“Also 396.1million dollars is urgently needed to deliver life saving food security and nutrition assistance to 2.8 million of the affected people in the next six months,” the UN said.