Food insecurity means not knowing when or where your next meal will come from. It means, in essence, not being able to meet the basic needs for yourself or your family. As a result, countless families are forced to make alarming sacrifices to survive. Many vulnerable people have little choice but to resort to negative coping mechanisms to obtain food, such as survival sex, child marriages, begging, child labor or recruitment into armed groups.
Today in north-east Nigeria, millions of people are facing the painful consequences of a deteriorating food security and nutrition crisis.
This year, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance, of which about 80 per cent are women and children.
1.74 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east.
Due to the violence of armed groups like Boko Haram, 2.2 million people have left their homes and are displaced.
In January, the Borno state government closed Teachers Village, it had become a home of sorts for Aisha and more than 30,000 other internally displaced people (IDP) on the grounds of improved security in conflict hotspots. Its residents were plunged into uncertainty and they were not consulted on the camp closures prior to the announcement.
At least 100,000 displaced people around Maiduguri face evictions, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), but aid groups say most families are unwilling to return to their ancestral lands, especially in northern parts of Borno, which they deem unsafe.
The future of IDPs is so uncertain. By allowing them to return to danger zones, authorities are ... cutting them off the support they need to be able to stand on their own," said Salome Gambo from the Caprecon Development And Peace Initiative. "There's no concrete plan in place and I fear things may become worse for IDPs in their home towns than they were while in camps in Maiduguri," said the project supervisor, whose charity supports abuse and trafficking victims in IDP camps.
Caught in limbo and cut off suddenly from government and humanitarian aid agency support, former camp residents are at high risk of labour exploitation as well as homelessness and extreme poverty, experts warn.