Disease outbreaks and hunger threaten the lives of millions in Lake Chad region

Disease outbreaks and hunger threaten the lives of millions in Lake Chad region

Publication info


ABUJA, Nigeria  (May 17, 2017) —  Disease outbreaks in the Lake Chad region coupled with a rising number of people experiencing severe hunger in Nigeria demands urgent attention to provide a political solution to the complex conflict and release much needed funds, urges CARE, the global poverty-fighting organization.

According to the latest analysis, an additional two million people will face critical food insecurity over the coming three months in Nigeria, bringing the total of hungry people to nearly nine million.

“As of June, about 50,000 people in three states of Nigeria will be in famine conditions and will starve without urgent humanitarian support,” warned Garth Van’t Hul, CARE’s interim country director in Nigeria.

Earlier this year, epidemics have broken out in Nigeria and Niger. Close to 10,000 suspected meningitis cases and over 830 deaths were recorded in Nigeria since the outbreak in April. In neighboring Niger, which is strongly battered by the conflict, Hepatitis E has broken out for the first time ever, affecting one of the poorest countries in the world which has very few health facilities.

“This is adding another layer of misery for people who are trying to survive a violent conflict and rising food insecurity,’ Van’t Hul said. “What’s very concerning is that women are mainly affected by the hepatitis outbreak. All deaths occurred among pregnant women and we need to act swiftly to contain the epidemics.”  

Only 21% of the much-needed $1.1 billion to provide humanitarian assistance in Nigeria has been received. 

“This is severely hampering relief efforts for millions of poor people and we urge donors to release these funds as soon as possible,” Van’t Hul said.  “It is unacceptable to leave people to their suffering. Donors must stand to their commitments to alleviate hunger and an impending epidemic crisis,”

Ultimately, a political solution is needed to end the conflict in the Lake Chad region.

“The conflict in the Lake Chad region remains very much neglected by political leaders and has not surfaced greatly on donor’s agendas,” Van’t Hul added. “Yet we don’t need to wait until famine is announced in Nigeria. Families need humanitarian support now so we avoid the worst and help them rebuild their lives.”

CARE has started operating in Nigeria, aiming to reach 900,000 people with life-saving food and livelihood assistance, sexual and reproductive health services as well as supporting women affected by gender-based violence. In Niger, CARE has disseminated disease sensitization materials and provided 9,000 jerry cans and water purification tablets to prevent hepatitis E from spreading. Overall in the Lake Chad region, CARE International has reached 53,000 people in Cameroon, 47,000 people in Chad and more than 250,000 people in Niger with life-saving food, shelter, water, farming supplies, household and cooking items as well as hygiene kits.

About CARE

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care.org 

Media contacts

Nicole Harris, Media Relations Manager, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871


Refugees and internally displaced people in Diffa region of Niger June 2016. Increased attacks by Nigerian militants along the border with Niger have brought the number of people seeking refuge in the Diffa region to 280,000 people, (including refugees, returnees and IDPs). CARE