With many farmlands under water due to the flooding in Benue, Kogi, Anambra and some other states in the country, the International Monetary Fund has warned that the country could be facing higher food prices, saying government getting food and cash to help people could help get people back to their feet.
The IMF also stressed the need for government to invest in building technology that will issue early warning systems as well as platforms where it can easily access climate finance that will help safeguard against shocks such as the one it is facing currently.
LEADERSHIP had yesterday highlighted the high impact of the flooding in Kogi which has seen many areas in its capital Lokoja being under water for weeks in a row, while other states continue to be affected by the flooding occasioned by the overflowing of the Benue River.
Speaking during the analytical corner on “Climate Change and Food Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa” on the first day of the 2022 IMF/ World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, Mai Farid of the Fund’s African Department said, “We are very cognizant of the challenge that the flood of that magnitude affects Nigeria and neighbouring countries.”
Stating that Sub Saharan Africa, which Nigeria is part of, is the most food-insecure region and also the region most vulnerable to climate change and yet the least prepared, Farid said “in terms of the supply of agricultural production, it is going to drop which will put even further pressure on prices.
“And in addition, the floods have affected some of the transportation networks which make it even harder to transfer food into the country or even out.
“So we do recognise that these are incredibly difficult context to address. However, as we mentioned, our work actually does point towards establishing a telecommunications system that gives farmers the ability to be aware of an upcoming climate change forecast that would kind of predict a flood or, or a drought; all those things will help them raise their level of preparedness.
Also on digitalization, she said the government could create platforms that could connect “vendors that could provide people with aid when they are facing the shortfall, trade networks and trade corridors.
“That way the countries with bumper harvest somewhere far from the affected region could actually be providing for that shortfall in supply of commodities.
“Rebuilding better is something that countries need to take into account since climate change is not going anywhere and, as we mentioned, is inevitable. And therefore making sure that infrastructure is climate resilient, that you are able to actually withstand that next shock, flood barriers come to mind, given the countries that we mentioned; these are expensive and this is where more efficient expenditure as well as making sure that you have platforms to perhaps attract climate finance.”
On his part, John Spray of the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF said “one thing our model tells us is that there can be permanent effects and short term shocks. And so, getting people to food and cash early, getting that social assistance out to people can have a really big impact in the long run. So, there’s a kind of urgency where we think it’s important that when there is a shock that people can get access to food. They don’t have to take more drastic measures, pulling children out of school or sacrificing other assets.”
Farid, whilst stating that food insecurity in Africa has been rising faster than in the rest of the world, noted that “over the past decade, you can see a persistent deterioration in sub Saharan Africa’s fixed Security Index. This is partly due to pressures from rapid population growth, recurring and intensifying natural disasters and lack of resilience.
“But when global droughts globally occurred in Sub Saharan Africa, more frequent and severe climate shocks have become a new normal, just Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon have been hit by severe floods. These are countries where most farmers rely on rain fed agriculture, with less than 1% of arable land equipped for irrigation, meaning farming and livestock are unable to cope with both high rain and drought.”