The rise of food prices and basic household items could push some more than six million Nigerians into poverty, a World Bank report suggested.
The World Bank in a report titled “COVID-19 in Nigeria: frontline data and pathways for policy” published in November 2021 indicated that rising inflation is throwing more Nigerians into poverty thus the Nigerian government needs to rev up its social safety interventions.
“The rise in prices witnessed between June 2020 and June 2021 alone could push another 6m Nigerians into poverty, with urban areas being disproportionately affected; this underscores the need for short-term policies to support welfare.” The report indicated.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2019 show that more than 82.9m Nigerians are poor. That figure is projected to be near 90m in 2021, especially with the additional 6m poor projected by the WB.
And an average of four out of 10 individuals in Nigeria had real per capita expenditures below N137,430 last year.
The latest WB report further stated that “the simple simulations suggest that the share of Nigerians living below the national poverty line could have increased from 40.1 per cent to 42.8%, due to the food price inflation witnessed between June 2020 and June 2021.
“This means about 5.6m additional Nigerians would be living in poverty. While food price inflation would decrease purchasing power and raise poverty across Nigeria, it appears that urban areas could be disproportionately affected” the report stated.
It noted that in “2018/19, about 16 per cent of poor Nigerians were urban dwellers. Yet among those who would be newly impoverished by the increase in food prices between June 2020 and June 2021, around 27 per cent would be from urban areas. Nevertheless, poverty in Nigeria is set to remain a primarily rural phenomenon, with or without rising food prices.”
It recommended that “In the short term, all efforts must be made to deliver Nigeria’s planned emergency social safety net programmes, geared towards households affected by ongoing inflation.”
Meanwhile, an economist, Dr. Muda Yusuf has said to fix the challenge of high inflationary pressures, the government must address the critical drivers of inflation like the rapidly depreciating naira exchange rate, illiquidity in the foreign exchange market, monetisation of fiscal deficit, high cost of logistics and insecurity around the country, especially the farming communities and bottlenecks and corruption in the cargo clearing processes.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), said even at 15.99%, inflationary pressure remains intense; stating that the intensity of food inflation is more troubling, at 18.34%.