News

    Niger Famine Spotlights Infrastructure Issues

    Although the president of Niger recently said there is no famine in his country, the U.N. World Food Program sees it differently, estimating that more than 2.5 million Nigerians are at high risk of severe malnutrition.  It is appealing for nearly $60 million of food aid to combat the food crisis. 

    Whether it's called a food shortage or famine, the larger questions are: how did conditions become so desperate and what are the long-term solutions?

    At an emergency medical center in the village of Dakoro in Niger, a woman is refusing all food or treatment.

    "They all died," says the woman about three of her children who recently starved to death.  The fourth is in critical condition. 

    The world is now responding to images of starving children in Niger with an outpouring of aid and assistance.  But was this tragedy avoidable?

    "For them, increasing agriculture production is not a priority,” according to Sanoussi Jakou, leader of Niger's opposition party Al Umat. He says the government ignored the problem to avoid public criticism and the government has been sending mixed signals.  

    Nigerien President Mamadou Tanja recently said there is no famine in Niger because there is plenty of food for sale on the streets of the capital Niamey.  

    But Niger's Agriculture Minister Moussa Labo says his government has been asking for assistance for months. "Since November the government made the international community aware of the need to provide support to Niger."

    Humanitarian organizations, like Doctors without Borders and the United Nations Children Fund, say they too have been calling for increased aid.   But some here say relief efforts may have been delayed by the both the government's and the international community's insistence on adhering to market reform policies. 

    They fear that flooding the streets with free food could make the country more dependent on aid in the future.  But the high cost of grain as a result of the drought has left many in dire straits. 

    Nomadic people are leaving Niger hoping for a better deal elsewhere to trade their livestock for grain.   But poor farmers have nowhere to go. 

    Oumarou Janbiri says he lost everything in the drought and does not even have enough money to buy seed for this year's crop. "I have nothing.  What am I to do?"  He doesn't know how he will provide for his family.  He has three wives and 21 children. 

    Economist Chako Cherif, with the University of Niamey, says Mr. Janbiri's large family is also part of the problem in Niger, a county that in the best of times does not produce enough food to feed all its people.  Breaking the cycle of poverty, Mr. Cherif says, will require both increasing food production and curbing population growth. "Because it is a very very deep paradigm shift.  We have to change our attitudes. Government. Civil Society."

    But now with so many children at risk all sides agree that they must address the immediate needs of the poor in Niger before developing long-term solutions. 

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora