Skip to main content

With over 182 million people, Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and the seventh largest in the world. The annual growth rate of the population is approximately 2.7 per cent, and more than half the population are under 30 years of age.

Nigeria is the 10th largest producer of crude oil in the world and achieved lower-middle-income status in 2014. However, the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency in its Northeast region have displaced 1.8 million people and left another 4.7 million in need of emergency food assistance in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states. Three million of them are in Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency.

The country’s human development indicators are poor. Persistent poverty affects more than half the population, most severely in the Northeast and Northwest regions. In addition, Nigeria is also subject to periodic droughts and floods; this has had an adverse impact on agricultural output and increased the vulnerability of populations, especially in rural areas.

Around 110 million Nigerians, representing over 60 percent of the total population, live below the poverty line. Primary school enrolment rates are estimated at 70 percent for boys and 60 percent for girls.

Since 2014, insurgent activities have added pressure to a fragile resource environment, deepened insecurity, hampered development and heightened the food and nutrition insecurity of vulnerable women and children.

While renewed government military initiatives against the insurgency are being successful, Boko Haram attacks using improvised explosive devices and person-borne explosive devices (IED/PBIED) continue in Maiduguri City and other towns in the North East.

Beset by violence, social disruption and economic hardship, thousands of Northeastern Nigerian families are in desperate need of food assistance.

The humanitarian situation continues to worsen as most displaced people do not have adequate access to food, water and other essentials.

Since May 2015, the World Food Programme (WFP) has supported national and state emergency agencies and humanitarian partners to assist people displaced by Boko Haram violence. WFP has been transferring operational know-how, providing technical support to strengthen food security data collection, enhancing the emergency response at displaced sites (including through food distribution), and providing safe and reliable air transport services to the humanitarian community.

In November 2016, with support from UNICEF, WFP launched a joint Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) to supply food, nutrition and health support to people in hard-to-reach areas in Borno and Yobe states. The RRM includes extensive use of helicopters and the pooling of logistics and telecommunications resources across the humanitarian community.

By end of December 2016, WFP had assisted more than a million people, including more than 796,000 with life-saving food, 171,000 with cash-based transfers and 192,000 children with specialized food to combat malnutrition.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Nigeria

  • Food assistance

    WFP is providing food assistance to more than 1.3 million people in Borno and Yobe states through its Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which is part of a larger operational plan to gradually scale up to reach 2 million people a month. Reaching those in need is challenging, due to high levels of insecurity and many people being on the move, which makes it difficult to adequately assess needs and respond. In addition to in-kind assistance, where markets are still functioning, WFP implements cash-based transfers.

  • Nutrition

    WFP continues to provide nutritional support for children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. WFP is using Mid-Upper Arm Circumference tape to determine the nutritional status of children and distributing specialized fortified food PlumpySup in most of the Local Government Areas in Borno and Yobe states.

  • Food security sector

    WFP co-leads with FAO the humanitarian Food Security Sector, tasked with supporting service delivery; facilitating strategic decision-making by the Humanitarian Coordination Team for humanitarian response; fostering strategic planning and development; advocacy; monitoring and assessment; and contingency planning.

  • Emergency telecommunications support

    Led by WFP, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is providing lifesaving radio and Internet connectivity services to humanitarian responders across the country. These services help ensure the safety and security of staff and allow humanitarians to work and access vital information, enabling them to provide better support to the thousands of people in need.

  • Logistics support

    WFP leads and coordinates preparedness and planning to address logistics challenges such as storage capacity and restriction of movement in hard-to-reach areas. These efforts help enhance logistics services, information sharing and responsiveness of humanitarian actors towards the needs of the affected population.

  • UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS)

    The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), has been supporting the humanitarian response in Nigeria since 2015, providing aid workers, donors and diplomatic missions with safe, flexible, efficient, and cost-effective air transportation with both fixed-wing and helicopters. UNHAS is making available three helicopters to support humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people in hard-to-access locations, such as Banki, Ngala, Monguno, Dikwa and Gwoza.