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Child malnutrition rises 160% in northeastern Nigeria

October 17, 2023

More than half a million people in the Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are experiencing alarmingly high rates of acute malnutrition. Compared to last year at this time, there has been a 160% increase in the number of children admitted to FHI 360 facilities for treatment of moderate and severe wasting, which represents the most immediate, visible and life-threatening form of malnutrition. An estimated 2 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of wasting in Nigeria today.

Solomon Atuman, FHI 360 nutrition coordinator, says:

“Admissions to FHI 360's treatment facilities from February to September of 2023 have surged to the highest levels ever recorded since we began this work in 2017. Across our 10 outpatient centers and 2 specialized treatment centers for children under the age of 5 in Northeast Nigeria, we have seen heartbreaking cases of severe wasting in very young children.

“In the past eight months, a staggering 15,781 malnourished children were admitted to our facilities for treatment of moderate and severe wasting, including those with complications. This is an increase of approximately 160% compared to the previous year. In August alone, an average of 50 severely malnourished children were admitted each week to FHI 360 stabilization centers in Borno state.

“After last year’s flooding, harvests failed, and many families didn’t have access to enough food — or enough nutritious food. Prices have gone up for food, fertilizer and fuel, and funding to respond to this crisis has decreased. More people are fleeing their homes as instability increases, leading to overcrowding in already congested displacement camps. Basic services, like access to clean water and hygiene, which play a pivotal role in preventing malnutrition, are stretched to the limit. Some malnutrition treatment centers in the region have been forced to close due to insecurity or lack of funding.

“The situation in northeast Nigeria is grave, and increased support is needed to address the critical health and nutritional needs of communities, especially women and children.”

If you would like to learn more, FHI 360 has staff available in Nigeria to discuss our nutrition interventions in Nigeria.