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UN Seeks Mitigation Efforts From FG, Stakeholders as 25 Million Nigerians Risk Hunger

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The Federal Government of Nigeria and other key stakeholders have been tasked with a fresh report indicating that about 25 million citizens of the country are highly at risk of hunger.

This appeal came following a food and nutrition analysis carried out by Cadre Harmonise, a group supported by the United Nations, revealing that almost 25 million Nigerians might face excruciating starvation if nothing is done to curb it.

The government-led group, in its analysis done twice a year, noted that these affected figures are at serious risk of battling hunger between June and August this year.

Before this latest analysis, a report had pegged the number of Nigerians currently at risk of starvation to 17 million.

Owing to worsening insecurity, climate change, and rising cost of food prices in the country, Cadre Hamonise’s data revealed an increase in the number of affected Nigerians courting hunger.

The reasons for the worsening situation were contained in a release sighted on the website of the United Nations Children’s Fund.

UNICEF also said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had corroborated its findings on the key drivers of the alarming trend by saying that, “widespread flooding in the 2022 rainy season damaged more than 676,000 hectares of farmlands, which diminished harvests and increased the risk of food insecurity for families across the country.”

The release by UNICEF reads further, “food access has been affected by persistent violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger.

“The flooding is one of the effects of climate change and variability impacting Nigeria. More extreme weather patterns affecting food security are anticipated in the future.”

According to the global organisation, out of the 17 million people who are currently food insecure, three million are in the North East BAY states.

The UN noted that if nothing urgent and immediate is done to mitigate the effects, the figure may increase to 4.4 million between June and August, which are described as the lean season.

Among those at higher risk of hunger, according to UN, are highly vulnerable displaced populations and returnees who are already struggling to survive a devastating humanitarian crisis in which 8.3 million people are in urgent need of help.

Meanwhile, to prevent the latest projection from coming into reality, UN has appealed to the Federal Government, the donor community, and public and private organisations to, as a matter of necessity, render resources and implement mitigation measures to save lives and prevent a potentially deadly food security and nutrition situation.

Also expressing concern over the development, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, said the projection would increase mortality in the country if not checked.

Schmale, who said he had visited nutrition stabilization centres populated by children, lamenting that, these children “are fighting to stay alive. We must act now to ensure they and others get the lifesaving support they need.

“There is a serious risk of mortality among children attributed to acute malnutrition. In the BAY states alone, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition is expected to increase from 1.74 million in 2022 to two million in 2023.

“UNICEF, working with the government and partners such as MSF and ALIMA, is investing in scaling up preventive nutrition interventions, while ensuring that vulnerable children have access to life-saving nutrition services. In 2022, UNICEF with its partners was able to reach approximately 650,000 children with life-saving nutrition services across the six states mentioned above.

“The northwest region, around Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states, is an increasing food insecurity and malnutrition hotspot. An estimated 2.9 million people are currently critically food insecure (Cadre Harmonisé Phase 3 or worse.) This figure is projected to increase to 4.3 million in the lean season if urgent action is not taken,” he further noted.

 

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Economy

Federal Government Halts Cooking Gas Export to Lower Local Prices

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In a bid to stabilize domestic prices and meet rising demand for cooking gas within Nigeria, the Federal Government has announced a temporary halt on the exportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas.

This decision follows a significant surge in the cost of cooking gas, which has placed a strain on consumers across the country.

According to reports, the halt in LPG export aims to increase the availability of the commodity within Nigeria’s borders, thereby reducing its local price.

The move is part of broader efforts to address the challenges faced by consumers grappling with the high cost of living.

In recent years, the demand for cooking gas has steadily increased in Nigeria, driven by urbanization, population growth, and a shift towards cleaner energy sources.

However, despite being a major producer of LPG, Nigeria has struggled to meet its domestic demand due to insufficient local production and distribution infrastructure.

Data from the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority reveals that while the total consumption of cooking gas in Nigeria has been on the rise, the country has relied heavily on imports to bridge the supply gap.

The recent decision by the government underscores its commitment to prioritizing the domestic market and ensuring that Nigerians have access to affordable cooking gas.

Consumers have been grappling with escalating prices, with reports indicating a significant increase in the cost of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas in major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Kano.

The decision to halt LPG exports signals a proactive measure by the government to mitigate the adverse effects of rising prices and alleviate the financial burden on households across the nation.

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Manufacturing Sector Records 7.70% Quarter-on-Quarter Growth in Q4 2023

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In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector grew by 7.70% year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The surge in growth reflects a significant uptick from the preceding quarter and underscores the resilience of the manufacturing industry amid economic challenges.

This growth trajectory indicates positive momentum and signals potential opportunities for economic recovery and development.

The manufacturing sector, comprising thirteen key activities ranging from oil refining to motor vehicles and assembly, demonstrated notable dynamism across various subsectors.

This growth surge is attributed to increased production, enhanced operational efficiencies, and strategic investments across the manufacturing value chain.

Despite facing headwinds such as supply chain disruptions and regulatory uncertainties, the sector’s robust performance underscores its pivotal role in driving economic diversification, job creation, and industrialization efforts in Nigeria.

Moving forward, sustaining this growth momentum will require continued policy support, investment in infrastructure, and efforts to address key bottlenecks hindering the sector’s expansion.

By fostering an enabling business environment and promoting innovation and technology adoption, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector can further catalyze inclusive economic growth and contribute significantly to the nation’s development agenda.

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Economy

Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.46% in Q4 2023, Driven by Services

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Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 on the back of robust performance of the services sector, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The GDP expansion though slightly lower than the 3.52% recorded in the same period of 2022, reflects a positive trajectory for the Nigerian economy amid ongoing challenges.

The growth rate surpassed the 2.54% recorded in the preceding quarter, indicating a rebound in economic activity.

The services sector emerged as the key driver of growth expanding by 3.98% and contributing 56.55% to the overall GDP.

This sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic landscape, encompassing diverse industries such as telecommunications, finance, and real estate.

Also, the agriculture sector experienced growth, expanding by 2.10% compared to the same period in 2022.

Meanwhile, the industry sector recorded a notable improvement, growing by 3.86%, a stark contrast to the -0.94% contraction observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

On an annual basis, Nigeria’s GDP expanded by 2.74% in 2023 compared to 3.10% in the previous year, reflecting sustained but moderated growth.

The positive trajectory in GDP growth reflects resilience in the face of various economic challenges.

However, sustaining and accelerating growth will require continued efforts to address structural bottlenecks, foster investment, and promote inclusive economic policies across sectors.

Nigeria’s Oil Sector Growth

During the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s oil sector posted a real growth rate of 12.11% year-on-year, signifying a significant improvement from previous periods.

This was driven by the surge in average daily oil production to 1.55 million barrels per day (mbpd), a positive shift in the sector’s performance.

Despite challenges such as global market fluctuations and production constraints, the oil sector contributed 4.70% to the nation’s total real GDP in Q4 2023.

Nigeria’s Non-Oil Sector

Nigeria’s non-oil sector sustained growth momentum, posting a 3.07% real growth rate in Q4 2023.

This growth was primarily attributed to key industries including finance, telecommunications, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.

Accounting for 95.30% of the nation’s GDP in the same quarter, the non-oil sector continues to drive economic diversification efforts and reduce dependence on oil revenues.

Despite facing challenges, such as infrastructure deficits and regulatory bottlenecks, the sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in fostering sustainable economic development and inclusive growth agendas.

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