The Economics of Starvation: Follow The Money…What Little There Is

The Daily Mail is quoting the United Nations that upwards of 50,000 children could starve to death this year in Borno State (Nigeria). MSF claims 1,200 children have died of starvation in the past 12 months. Accusations are flying regarding government corruption and the amount of aid this area has received both internally and internationally.

Borno State lies in the furthermost northeast corner of Nigeria. Prior President Goodluck Jonathan declared this region a state of emergency in May of 2013, due to fighting with Boko Haram. In July of 2014, Borno State governor Kashim Shettima provided figures of Boko Haram’s carnage, “176 teachers had been killed and 900 schools destroyed since 2011.” Economically, Boko Haram’s insurgency has devastated the area, particular the agriculture sector resulting in high levels of food insecurity. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimates 2,252,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Nigeria, of which, (according to the International Organization for Migration, IOM), 1,434,149 are in Borno State.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported in May, World Bank loss of life figures at 20,000 and cost of damage at $5.9 billion. Per the report…”in the 27 local government districts that make up Borno, the fighting destroyed or damaged:

– 956,453 (nearly 30 percent) out of 3,232,308 private houses

– 5,335 classrooms and school buildings in 512 primary, 38 secondary and two tertiary institutions

– 1,205 municipal, local government or ministry buildings

– 76 police stations

– 35 electricity offices

– 14 prison buildings

– 201 health centres

– 1,630 water sources

– 726 power sub-stations and distribution lines.”

Governor Shettima of the Borno State addressed accusations of corruption this week…“You see, contrary to wild assumptions that the Borno State Government has received billions of cash donations in local and foreign currencies for the management of Internally Displaced Persons, a lot of Nigerians may be shocked to know that a total of three hundred and forty five million naira (N345m) is the overall amount received as cash donation by our administration from May, 2011 to date.”   345 million naira is equivalent to $1.2 M USD. Some of the major (non cash) supporters have been the Norwegian Refugee Council, ICRC, World Food Program, and Doctors Without Borders amongst others.

‎”We have received tremendous support from some part of the International community but no foreign country or any International partner within or outside the UN and major world donors gave any cash to our administration from 2011 to date for the purpose of IDPS but rather all donations come in materials like medical supplies, technical support and food items, most of which are directly distributed by the International partners themselves to reach IDP’S in different parts of Borno State. Amounts you might heard through the media were not cash donated to Borno by international partners but rather, items and services worth such amount mentioned to the public. They do not give cash.”

If accurate, the Borno State has received less than $1 in cash per IDP in the last 5 years.

We Heard You.

Mark Correnti

Photo: Bede Sheppard, Human Rights Watch

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