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 1.7 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.

1.7 million
people have been displaced by Boko Haram violence
4.7 million
people in the North East need emergency food assistance
60 percent
of people nationwide live below the poverty line

What the World Food Programme is doing in Nigeria

  • Food assistance

    WFP uses either food- or cash-based transfers to support displaced people living in camps or with host communities, as well as vulnerable host populations. Distributions have scaled up from 160,000 people reached in October 2016 to over 1 million in December and January 2017. Despite the challenges posed by high levels of insecurity many people being on the move, WFP plans to reach 1.8 million of the most vulnerable people in 2017.

  • Nutrition

    WFP assists with specialized nutritious food children under 5 at risk of malnutrition, and pregnant and nursing women. Jointly with UNICEF and ACF, WFP delivers an integrated package of essential health and nutrition services to prevent and treat acute malnutrition.

  • Rapid Response Mechanism

    WFP launched a joint Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) with UNICEF to supply food, nutrition and health support to people in difficult-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.

  • Food security sector

    Under the Government’s leadership, the Food Security Sector (FSS) is co-led by FAO and WFP and brings together partners to discuss and ensure access to, and availability and timeliness of food assistance for the affected population. The FSS has enhanced synergy, collaboration and co-operation amongst partners.

  • Logistics and telecommunications

    WFP supports the Government in addressing the main logistics and telecommunication gaps faced by the humanitarian community in north-east Nigeria. Logistics Sector activities include logistics coordination and information management, civil-military liaison for cargo movements and storage capacity augmentation. Emergency Telecommunication Sector activities cover security telecommunications and internet connectivity services in Maiduguri, Damaturu and six other field sites.

  • UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS)

    WFP provides safe, reliable air transport to the humanitarian community. This includes the use of two helicopters to carry vital relief – vaccines, medicines, medical equipment and staff – to hard-to-reach, isolated areas. UNHAS connects six destinations (Abuja, Maiduguri, Yola, Dutse, Bauchi and Gombe) by plane, and various hard-to-access locations (Bama, Banki, Gwoza, Dikwa, Ngala and Monguno) via helicopter.

Nigeria news and stories

Go to page

Partners and donors

Achieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Nigeria is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:



Central Business District

Phone: +234(0)9070250844; +234(0)9070250847


For media inquiries