Nigerians coping with food shortage after Boko Haram attacks

More than 1.8 million Nigerians have been displaced by attacks involving Boko Haram.

Maiduguri, Nigeria – Attacks involving Boko Haram have displaced more than 1.8 million Nigerians in predominantly agricultural northeast Nigeria over the last 10 years.

Due to the increase in violence, many small-scale farmers were forced to abandon their farms and agricultural activities.

The subsequent fall in production, rocketing food prices, and lack of safe access to markets created one of the world’s worst food security crises alongside Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.


“I’m breastfeeding, but I have no milk because of the lack of food,” said Yagana as she swatted flies away from her baby’s face, while looking out towards the dusty Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri that has now become her home.

Yagana, 20, fled home in Damboa, Borno State, with her child after Boko Haram attacked her village. She lost contact with her husband and family during the chaos.

Yagana and her child, sitting in one of the offices in the NYSC IDP camp in Maiduguri [Joi Lee/Contrast VR]

Following the path of more than 309,000 other displaced northeast Nigerians, Yagana came to Maiduguri, which houses the highest IDP population in the country.

To support the influx of IDPs, the city has quickly transformed over the years. Hundred of other formal and informal camps have sprung up in the city.

A former orientation camp for Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has become an IDP camp, now the new home for people like Yagana. 

Resources are scarce and inconsistent within the camp.

“We are not in a good situation here. They do give us food but it’s not enough at all. We have not been given food for almost two months now,” she said.

A few kilometres away, in a makeshift IDP camp constructed by a local Nigerian, the situation is not much better.


“People here tell us it’s better if we go and beg. If not, nobody would give us anything, not even leftover food,” said Falimatu, sitting outside a makeshift home constructed by wooden slats and tarp by an NGO.

In a region where nearly 80 percent of the population were farmers, many IDPs like Yagana and Falimatu relied on small-scale farming before being displaced from their homes.

Yagana sits around with other women and their children during the afternoon at the NYSC IDP camp [Joi Lee/Contrast VR]

Now living in crowded camps and host-like communities, very few have little opportunity for farming and have to rely on begging, manual labour and NGO support to survive.

“To feed ourselves in the camp, it’s necessary for me to do some menial jobs. I have to work by pounding other people’s millet,” said Falimatu.

On a sunny day, a group of women stood under a tree around a stone mortar. Each one of them was equipped with a heavy wooden pestle which was nearly as tall as them.

In clockwise fashion, each woman pounded their pestle down after the women next to her, creating a seamless rhythm.

“It takes nine of them hours of work to pound one bag. We share the 400 Nigerian Naria ($1.10) among us,” said Yagana.

“Our main problem is just food, and nothing is more important than that.”

Just Food: Coping With the Crisis is an immersive film by Contrast VR – Al Jazeera’s immersive media studio – exploring how three displaced women in northeast Nigeria are coping to put food on the table for their families in what is an ongoing food insecurity crisis.

Mobile users click here to view the documentary.

Source: Al Jazeera