Hunger and starvation in parts of North-East Nigeria - With women and children mostly affected

Abuja, Nigeria. February 16th, 2016 NOIPolls Limited recently conducted a special public opinion poll on Nigerians residing within the North-East geo-political zone of the country (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states). The poll sought to contribute to the discourse on the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and specifically sought the opinions of Nigerians on the prevalence of hunger and starvation in parts of North-Eastern Nigeria. The poll also identified specific communities and towns considered most vulnerable to hunger and starvation.

Key findings from the poll revealed that a significant proportion of respondents, at least 7 in 10 (73 percent), residing within the North-East region, acknowledged the prevalence of hunger and starvation in parts of the region, with women and children under 5 years being the most affected. Further findings revealed that although 56 percent of respondents claimed they eat up to three time a day, a significant proportion (27 percent) stated that they eat only two times in a day, with almost one in every ten respondent (9 percent) stating categorically that they eat only once in every 24 hours.

Similarly, 56 percent of respondents revealed that they often have to ration their meals or restrict adult consumption in order to enable the children feed adequately; with 26 percent having to rely on family and friends for sustenance. Furthermore, when probed on the capacity of their incomes to meet their monthly food need, about 1 in 4 respondents (25 percent) stated that their income does not meet up with their food needs, but they just have to manage the little they have.

Finally, respondents were able to identify towns, communities and local government areas in the North-East zone which in their opinion are worst hit by high prevalence of hunger and starvation. In particular, respondents identified some towns and communities considered the worst hit areas such as:  Itas-Gadau, Alkaleri, Kirfi, Pali and Mansuru in Bauchi state; Bama, Askira-Uba, Lassa, Chibok and Konduga in Borno state; Kumi, Ardo-Kola, Zing, Ibi and Lau in Taraba state; Gulani, Gujba, Yunusari, Jakusko and Tarmuwa in Yobe state; Dukku, Kaltungo, Jamari, Nafada and Laro in Gombe; and Mubi, Wurobokki, Musathaka and Tashala in Adamawa state.

These are the key findings from the poll on Hunger in North-East Nigeriaconducted by NOIPolls in the week commencing February 1st 2016.

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Brief Background

A 2015 report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) approximated the number of people around the world unable to obtain enough food to live healthy and productive lives at 795 million out of 7.6 billion people on earth between the years, 2014-2016.[1] Asia is the continent with the world’s hungriest people. Hunger is synonymous with undernourishment which means that a person is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year. Similarly, starvation refers to a severe deficiency in caloric energy intake needed to maintain human life. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition which can result from hunger. Nigeria is currently ranked 14th with the score of 32.2 percent (where 0 is low and 100 is extremely high) in the 2015 World Global hunger index (GHI).  However, Nigeria has been reducing hunger since 1990 as the country has moved from ‘extremely alarming’ in 1990 to ‘serious’ in 2015 in the global hunger categories.[2]

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria has increased exponentially especially in the North-East due to insurgency, and this has further fuelled the spread of hunger and starvation. Current reports state that Nigeria has the highest number of IDPs on the continent, with estimates of over 3 million IDPs in the country[3]. According to a report on Daily Independent Newspaper “there is a proven link and interaction between food insecurity, conflict, refugees, internally-displaced persons (IDPs). A failed or failing state means many African countries remain on the brink of disaster”. By the end of 2014, global conflicts had forced almost 60 million people to abandon their homes as revealed in the 2015 MDGs report. Nigeria has experienced its own fair share with the number of IDPs currently estimated at over 3 million citizens.

In the light of the above, NOIPolls conducted a special public opinion poll on hunger and starvation in North-East Nigeria in order to contribute to the discourse on the plight of IDPs and seek the opinions & perception of Nigerians residing in the North East zone on the effects of hunger, its prevalence and communities considered most vulnerable within the region.

Survey Findings

A report from the World Bank on global consumption of goods and services revealed that food and beverages (56.81 percent) accounted for the items Nigerians spend more of their household income on[4]. However, few Nigerians have access to safe and nutritionally adequate food in view of global food security standards. In determining the frequency of food consumption per day in the North East zone, majority of the respondents (64 percent) stated that they eat 3 times daily, with respondents in Bauchi and Yobe (65 percent each) states having the highest response in this category. Also, respondents from Borno (13 percent), Taraba (12 percent) and Adamawa (11 percent) states represented the lowest daily food consumption rates in the North East implying that Borno state has the highest incidence of hunger in the North East zone of Nigeria. Analysis by age-group revealed that respondents between 18 – 25 years (63 percent) accounted for the largest proportion of respondents who eat 3 times daily and this could be attributed to the older respondents rationing their food for the younger ones.

According to the 2014 Africa Multiple Indicator Scorecard on Hunger and Food Security, Nigeria has the highest number of hungry people in West Africa, with about 12.1 million people who are hungry or under nourished in the country. News reports also disclosed that the deepening humanitarian crisis in North-Eastern Nigeria has led to the displacement of over 1.5 million people, and causing about 4 million people to experience acute food insecurity and are in need of humanitarian assistance.[5] Our findings corroborate these reports as 73 percent of residents from this region affirmed that there is a prevalence of hunger and starvation in some communities and towns in the North-East zone. Residents from Borno state (85 percent) accounted for the largest proportion of respondents who affirmed this statement. On the contrary, 27 percent responded negatively to this and Bauchi state residents with 42 percent represent the highest number of respondents in this category.

Similarly, respondents who admitted that there is prevalence of hunger in the North-East region also identified some of the communities and towns suffering from the prevalence of hunger as follows:  Itas-Gadau in Bauchi state (2.9 percent), Bama in Borno state (2.6 percent) and Kumi in Taraba state (2.3 percent) topped the list of these communities and towns amongst others. However other towns and communities include: Alkaleri, Kirfi, Pali and Mansuru in Bauchi state; Askira-Uba, Lassa, Chibok and Konduga in Borno state; Ardo-Kola, Zing, Ibi and Lau in Taraba state; Gulani, Gujba, Yunusari, Jakusko and Tarmuwa in Yobe state; Dukku, Kaltungo, Jamari, Nafada and Laro in Gombe; and Mubi, Wurobokki, Musathaka and Tashala in Adamawa state.

In summary, this public opinion poll has been able to provide some empirical evidence on the prevalence of hunger and starvation in parts of North-East Nigeria, particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Key findings from the poll has revealed that more than 7 in 10 residents  (73 percent) of the North-East region acknowledge the prevalence of hunger and starvation in the region, with women and children under 5 years being the most affected. The poll further revealed that 27 percent of respondents eat only two times daily, with almost one in every ten respondent (9 percent) stating categorically that they eat only once in a day. In addition, 56 percent of respondents polled confirmed that they often have to ration their meals and restrict adult consumption in their households in order to enable the children feed adequately; with 26 percent having to rely on family and friends for sustenance. Also, the income of about 1 in 4 respondents (25 percent) does not meet up with the food needs of residents; but given the situation at hand, they just have to make do with little.

Given the ongoing attacks on civilians in the North-East region, conditions for safe return to their homes are still at a slow pace, besides many of their towns and villages have been ravaged in the attacks. Therefore, organisations such as NEMA, SEMA and International development organisations & NGOs like the World Food Programme (WFP) and Action Against Hunger (ACH) are encouraged to design their intervention programmes & operations around critical humanitarian needs like treatment for severe acute hunger and malnutrition cases, food aid, shelter, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene to Nigerians living in both the formal IDP camps and informal camps (which have been said to hold for more IDPs than the formal government approved camps).

Finally, this report has identified specific communities, towns and local governments where hunger and starvation are pervasive in the North-East region of Nigeria. We therefore expect that governments at both federal and state levels, as well as local and international humanitarian organisations find this information as “low hanging fruits”, useful for targeting intervention programmes geared towards the eradication of hunger.

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Survey Methods

This public opinion poll was conducted through telephone interviews. A proportionate randomly selected sample of 1,000 phone-owning Nigerians, residents in the North-East geo-political zone, 18 years and above, were interviewed across the six states in the region (Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states). This sample size provides a 95 percent confidence interval that the results obtained are within a range of plus or minus 3.0 percent of the opinions of the population. This means that if the survey is conducted 100 times using the exact same procedures, the margin of error would include the true value in 95 out of 100 surveys. The interviews were conducted mainly in Hausa, Pidgin English and English. The use of these languages reduce the likelihood of a non-response bias.

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1]http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

[2]http://www.ifpri.org/publication/2015-global-hunger-index-armed-conflict-and-challenge-hunger

[3] https://www.naij.com/66928.html

[4]http://datatopics.worldbank.org/consumption/country/Nigeria

[5] http://dailyindependentnig.com/2014/02/nigeria-country-of-hungry-people/