Conflict, Crisis and Hunger in
Northeast Nigeria

Northeast Nigeria is now the site of Africa’s largest humanitarian emergency, with 8.5 million people urgently needing humanitarian assistance and more than five million people expected to face severe food insecurity by mid-2017.

Nearly two million people are displaced from their homes inside Nigeria and another 200,000 are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Food insecurity continues to deteriorate. As the lean season sets in, the number of people facing food insecurity is expected to increase from 4.7 million to 5.2 million. Some areas could face famine conditions if humanitarian aid does not reach them—a constant challenge as aid organizations cannot access areas under Boko Haram control.

The Boko Haram insurgency has also spread across Nigeria’s borders. The Lake Chad Basin, which includes Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, continues to experience violence and displacement, with 17 million people affected, including 2.35 million who are displaced from their homes.


In Need of Assistance

8.5 million

people in need of emergency assistance

internally displaced

1.7 million

million people are internally displaced in the three northeast states

food insecurity

5.2 million

predicted to be food insecure in Nigeria by mid-2017

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is driving the crisis in northeast Nigeria?

    Boko Haram and the fight to retake territory from them are the main drivers of the crisis. The seven-year insurgency has continuously forced people from their homes and left them unable to plant their crops and reestablish their livelihoods. This means that families who used to feed themselves no longer are able to. As a result, 5.2 million people are expected to face severe food insecurity by mid-2017, with 450,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The crisis can be felt throughout the Lake Chad Region, which also includes Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Across the region, one in three families are food insecure and one in every two needs humanitarian assistance.

  • Why is Nigeria at risk of famine?

    The constant displacement and instability has caused food production in northeast Nigeria to plummet. For example, Borno state, the epicenter of the crisis, used to produce about a quarter of Nigeria’s wheat. It now grows none. Similarly, sorghum production in Borno has dropped by 82 percent, rice by 67 percent, and millet by 55 percent between between 2010 and 2015, according to the International Crisis Group. Livestock has also been decimated, while fighting has destroyed infrastructure and trade. On top of all of this, some people are living in areas that are controlled by Boko Haram and humanitarian organizations like International Medical Corps are not able to reach them with life-saving assistance, leaving them particularly vulnerable to famine conditions.

  • What are the biggest humanitarian challenges?

    Access to populations in need remains a tremendous challenge in Borno state. Boko Haram still controls large parts of the state and insecurity makes some areas too dangerous for aid organizations to work. This means that food assistance, treatment for malnutrition, and other services are poorest where the needs are the highest. Additionally, only 25 percent of the displaced are living in official camps. This means the rest of them live in mostly host communities, which can make them harder to identify and ensure they are getting the assistance they need. Lastly, while the international response has scaled up, there is still an enormous funding gap to meet the needs.

  • What specifically is International Medical Corps doing to help?

    International Medical Corps has worked in Nigeria since 2013 and currently works in Sokoto, Kano, and Borno states to provide health, nutrition, water and sanitation, gender-based violence prevention and response, and food security. We are also responding to the emergency needs of displaced populations in Chad and Cameroon.

Help relieve hunger.

The Challenges

Widespread Food Insecurity

One in three families is food insecure and one in every two people needs urgent humanitarian assistance

Crisis Levels of Malnutrition

More than half a million children are suffering from acute malnutrition in the Lake Chad region—450,000 of them are in northeast Nigeria

Famine Potential

Less accessible areas of northeast Nigeria, particularly Borno State, are at-risk of famine conditions

Our Response

International Medical Corps is responding to the nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, and protection needs of conflict-affected communities in northeast Nigeria, including the internally displaced and host community members. This includes distributing food to an estimated 176,000 people in Borno State as well as making treatment for malnutrition available in conflict-affected communities. We also train local people to serve as community health volunteers and community health extension workers to screen children for malnutrition, administer treatment (ready-to-use therapeutic food), and follow-up on their progress.

In Cameroon, International Medical Corps is delivering emergency medical, nutrition, and mental health care services to Nigerian refugees in Minawao camp. International Medical Corps also provides gender-based violence and child protection prevention and response activities for women, girls, and boys in the camp, which is home to some 56,000 Nigerian refugees. International Medical Corps also responds to the needs of Cameroonians displaced by ongoing violence in the Far North Region of the country with medical care, nutrition services, disease surveillance, gender-based violence and protection activities, and water and sanitation.

In Chad, International Medical Corps collaborates with the Ministry of Health to provide health centers with primary health care, maternal health, and nutrition support to over 20 health facilities in the Lac Region, where Boko Haram attacks continue to compromise the well-being of local communities. This includes managing the nutrition stabilization center at Bagasola Hospital and offering medical and nutrition services to Nigerian refugees in in Dar es Salam camp.

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